Six school districts across the state will be working with Grand View University in Des Moines to help a growing number of students who learning the English language.

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Grand View $2.5 million over the next five years to train ELL teachers. The larger school systems of Des Moines, Iowa City and Marshalltown are involved.

The dean of graduate and adult programs at Grand View, Patricia Williams, says the smaller districts of Postville, West Liberty and Columbus Junction are also included.

“We really wanted to reach out to parts of Iowa that are not in the Des Moines metropolitan area, or not in another major urban setting, and offer them the ELL endorsement with scholarships from the grant we can deliver it to them online,” Williams said. According to Williams, much of the attention will go to providing teachers who already see ELL students daily more understanding of what they need.

“Some of the better practices suggest content teachers, your regular classroom teachers who have some background in ELL and have that endorsement, or have some training, often are more effective with students who are learning English simultaneously while learning the regular curriculum,” Williams said.

The goal of the effort is to train 485 classroom teachers.

(Thanks to Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio)