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McAllen ISD Project TEACH

McAllen Independent School District in southern Texas serves mostly Hispanic students, a fourth of whom are classified as English Language Learners. Five of the district's 34 schools have not achieved Adequate Yearly Progress: the average Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) score for these five schools is 55 percent, compared to the state average of 72 percent. Most history teachers in the district have minimal credentials in the subject area and few opportunities for professional development. McAllen ISD Project TEACH (Teachers Engaged in American Culture and History) will target low-performing schools and engage 50 teachers annually in four 2-day colloquia, eight 3-hour seminars, and a 4-day summer institute. At least half of the teachers will participate in a 5-day historical site visit each year. The project will also provide support and tuition for five participants interested in pursuing a master's degree in American history. Themes explored in Project TEACH will include complex political, economic, and social dynamics that have shaped America from colonial times through the present. Through training, observation, and feedback, teachers will implement an instructional strategy called document-based questioning. Participating teachers will also share their work with colleagues face-to-face and online, mentor other history teachers, and use Texas's Web-based curriculum management tool to align classroom instruction to district curriculum. The teachers will create thematic "toolbox libraries" for classroom use.