November/December 2022

Micro-Credential Training Offered to Support English Learners

By Aylaynah Rose Garibay and Rebecca Vonderlack-Navarro

Nearly one in four children in Illinois speaks a language other than English in the home. In 2019-20, there were 261,454 students classified as English Learners, roughly 12% of the student population. In addition, almost every school district in the state offers English Learner instructional programs to sup-port the unique learning needs of those students. 

Until now, there has not been a sustained series of trainings designed to build the skills of school lead-ers who are responsible for student outcomes in those programs. Unique factors impact the learning trajectories of English learners over the long term, and administrators and school leaders can benefit from increasing their skillsets and expertise in best practices for working with English Learners.

Through advocacy and analysis, the Latino Policy Forum builds a foundation for equity, justice, and economic prosperity for the Latino community. By catalyzing policy change, the Forum works to im-prove education outcomes, advocate for affordable housing, promote just immigration policies, and strengthen community leadership. The education team of the Latino Policy Forum envisions Latino and English Learner (EL) children across the educational continuum as having equitable educational oppor-tunities.

The Latino Policy Forum is proud to partner with the DuPage Regional Office of Education to offer a series of English Learner Administrator Academies in the form of micro-credentials. Read on to dis-cover the unique content and job-embedded activities within the EL-focused micro-credential and the types of credit an administrator can receive upon successful completion of a micro-credential.

What are Micro-Credentials? 
In Illinois, school leaders are required to have ongoing professional development. Earning such credit is accomplished by signing up for Administrator Academies that are either conducted online or in person. The Administrator Academy offerings are published by Regional Offices of Education, Intermediate Service Centers, or professional organizations such as the Illinois Principal’s Association, the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, or the Illinois Association of School Administrators. 

Recently, Illinois has implemented a new model of targeted trainings that offers the opportunity to participate as an individual in a cohort or as a team. Micro-credentials are an exciting new form of job-embedded professional development with tasks that are relevant to your school community. Topics include relevant current-day situations that school leaders face such as equity in education, fostering social-emotional development, and English Learner Education. Each micro-credential is de-signed to increase an individual’s capacity to lead school-wide change. 

The learning within each training is meaningful and substantial, therefore it is recommended that ad-ministrators sign up for no more than two annually. The artifacts produced as part of the mi-cro-credential support planning and implementation of new goals at either the school or district level. Earning micro-credentials on a particular topic over time builds expertise. 

What is Unique about the EL Micro-Credential Series? 
The series of English Learner Administrator Academies, in the form of micro-credentials, are based on the Illinois English Learner Handbook and feature examples of high-quality programs here in Illinois. The Latino Policy Forum created the handbook in partnership with the Illinois Principals Association, Illinois Association of School Administrators, and Illinois Association of School Boards (links available below). The micro-credential trainings feature ways to implement best practices for English Learners and support their academic success. 

This micro-credential series is recommended for school leaders who are working in schools where there is a subgroup of English Learners enrolled. It is also beneficial for district-level EL program direc-tors who are looking for targeted professional development related to their responsibilities. 

There are currently four trainings that lead participants through steps that support the school im-provement process. The practices in these trainings were designed by experts in the field of English Learner education who have successfully implemented systemic change which in some cases trans-formed entire communities.

What Types of Activities are in These Trainings?
Themes covered in the trainings include

  • Understanding staff attitudes toward English Learners education: Are staff attitudes and beliefs in line with research and best practice?
  • Evaluating the quality of programs: Do existing programs contain all the necessary components to en-sure student success? 
  • Understanding student performance through an English Learner lens: Which metrics tell more about growth and long-term success for English Learners?
  • Building school-community buy-in for programmatic changes: How can you build a stakeholder group that will take part in the change process and provides meaningful insights? 

School administrators can earn the annual Administrators’ Academy credit or professional develop-ment hours by signing up for one EL micro-credential. The timeline for completion is around three months. Any subsequent micro-credentials earned in the same year count as hours of professional development credit. 

There are four EL Micro-Credentials in a series toward earning a micro-endorsement. This can best be accomplished over the span of two academic school years, thereby earning two AA credits and addi-tional professional development hours. Enrollment information for the EL Micro-Credential is available at the resources link below. 

Aylaynah Rose Garibay is Senior Consultant to the Latino Policy Forum. Rebecca Vonderlack-Navarro, Ph.D., is the Director of Education at the Latino Policy Forum. For links and resources associated with this article, see the Journal resources link at