Rui Niu-Cooper: 0000-0003-2028-2802

Carol Lautenbach: 0000-0002-8324-0768




With the rapid increase of English Learners (ELs) in K–12 schools, school districts are struggling to find ways to meet the needs for EL teachers. One approach to address the shortage is to build teacher capacity by collaborating with higher education institutions where English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher preparation programs are offered. However, such collaborations are expensive to local schools due to the credit hours that those programs require.

In this paper, comparing the contexts in the State of Michigan and the State of New York, we describe a partnership experience between a university in Michigan and its neighboring K–12 partner school districts. In 2016, the collaboration secured a five-year, 2.53 million, grant to support districts’ efforts to address such teacher shortage.

Using Richardson’s (1994) crystallization method, we identified the unique features of three evolving stages of the school district’s capacity-building process. We conceptualized these stages into a two-layered model, based on the partners’ discourse patterns, role played, ownership, and information flow. We argue that the model can be used by other K–12 higher-education collaborations, particularly in the States like New York and Michigan. Specific recommendations are offered to maximize such collaborative efforts.



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