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PSJA ISD among school districts selected to partner with University of Houston for $10 million study

PHARR - Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District (PSJA ISD) is among three public school districts selected to partner with the University of Houston for a study to better understand the academic vocabulary assessment of secondary English language learners.  


The research is part for a five-year $10 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to create and direct a national research and development center at the University of Houston for English Learners. The Center will be part of the UH Texas Institute for Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics (TIMES). 


The center begins its work with students in 6th and 9th grades in the subjects of social studies and science. Pharr-San-Juan-Alamo Independent School District is one of several partners which include: Texas Education Agency, Research Alliance for New York City Schools, New York Department of Education, Austin Independent School District and the Aldine Independent School District. 


“We are grateful to be part of this innovative research that will have a significant impact on English Language Learners as more than 40% of our students are considered Limited English Proficient (LEP) with Spanish being the primary language spoken at home,” said PSJA Superintendent Jorge L. Arredondo. “We want to continue to provide models and best evidence-based practices for the success of our English Language Learners students that will bring the highest level of academic and economic success.”


The study will allow researchers to better understand vocabulary and vocabulary assessment of middle school students, which holds potential to provide long-term benefits to schools like those in PSJA ISD. 


"Our partnership with UH will help us to collectively address the academic needs of our English Learners,” said PSJA Chief Academics Dr. Rudy Treviño. "Our tri-city community is comprised of multi-generational Spanish speaking learners at varying levels of English language acquisition and this partnership will help improve educational outcomes for our students. Most importantly, the partnership will work from an appreciative model that values our students' strengths in their first language."


According to the official University of Houston press release, the center will focus on weaving topics into the full curriculum, using real-world examples, that are engaging and directly relevant to students of this age. These kinds of practices, which make content more accessible to English Learners, will also make it more accessible and compelling to all students.  


The center will review these various methods along with team learning and test them in classrooms in Texas and New York. They will also build a formative assessment program to enhance the effectiveness of the instructional strategies and teachers’ feedback to students.


PSJA ISD has been supporting English learners through its effective and successful Dual Language Enrichment Program. Servicing students from PK-3 to 12th grade, the district has gone beyond minimum requirements by investing numerous material and human resources into the development and provision of a comprehensive and additive program for all students participating. Upon completion of the program, PSJA students will master both academic English and Spanish languages with the opportunity to learn a third language, Chinese Mandarin or Arabic, and graduate with a Biliteracy Seal on their high school diploma. 


To learn more about the PSJA Dual Language Enrichment Program visit