College of Education / Teaching Research Institute

WOU awarded grant to close opportunity grant gaps for culturally and linguistically diverse students

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) recently awarded $200,000 to Western Oregon University’s Teaching Research Institute and College of Education, one of nine competitively funded grant awards, to support Project High Five – Culture, Collaboration, Commitment, Communication and Community. The project is a collaborative endeavor between WOU, Central School District (CSD) 13J, the Ella Curran Food Bank, and the Oregon Child Development Coalition to develop a strong Professional Development School (PDS) partnership program between CSD and WOU and will advancing the ability of teachers to meet the needs of culturally and/or linguistically diverse students, which is a key component of Oregon’s 40-40-20 goal. This PDS partnership program is based on principles of culturally responsive pedagogy while strengthening and expanding English Language Development (ELD) for English Learners and being actively involved with community partnerships and service to the community.

Project High Five builds upon the work of two prior WOU grant funded endeavors that developed a contextualized, content-based English Language Development (ELD) model. Over the past 18 months, WOU has worked with teachers and administrators at CSD to reshape and expand the district’s ELD model according to district needs and research-based practices. The model “is a research-based approach that keeps the students in their home classrooms and anchors the learning of English to content that is already part of the students’ academic day,” said Dr. Maria Dantas-Whitney, the project director. “This model offers an opportunity for students to receive ELD‐focused instruction that integrates the presentation of topics or tasks from subject matter.”  The Oregon Department of Education named the contextualized ELD model an “Equity Promising Practice.”

“Becoming culturally responsive requires strong links between schools, families and communities to increase student success by removing barriers that block educational achievement. Project High Five will strengthen the trust, understandings and commitment between Central School District and Western Oregon University resulting in improved outcomes for K-12 students, pre-service and in-service teachers and increased community collaborations,” said Dr. Chloe Hughes, project co-director.

A important aspect of Project High Five is the rigorous program evaluation included within the project. “We want to be able to collect enough meaningful data that we can clearly demonstrate the impact of this innovative model,” said Dr. Christina Reagle, project evaluator.  “We hope to be able to document how this type of project contributes to Oregon’s 40-40-20 goal.”

About TRI
TRI’s mission is to inform and facilitate change in educational and human service systems that improve the quality of life for individuals.  Originally established in 1961, the work at TRI has followed a course congruent with state and national issues in education and human services. TRI houses seven Centers focused on informing and facilitating change in educational and human service systems to improve the quality of life for all individuals.  Funded through external grants, the Centers conduct programs of research, develop evidence-based interventions that are provided through technical assistance and professional development, and increase system capacity to effect change.  TRI manages a yearly grants’ expenditures budget of $6.5 – $7 million.

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Contacts for media:
Dr. Christina Reagle, coordinator, TRI Center on Educator Preparation & Effectiveness at or 503-838-8871
Dr. Maria Dantas-Whitney, chair, Teacher Education Division, or 503-838-8636.
Dr. Ella Taylor, director, Teaching Research Institute, or 503-838-8589.

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