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By Nadia Tellez, Choose to Excel Director

During my time as a teacher, I would spend a significant amount of time scouring the internet, researching books and activities, and crafting lesson plans that were instructional, engaging, and supportive of all learners in my classroom because I wanted them to connect with and fully comprehend the subjects I was teaching. It was a labor of love, driven by the belief that every student deserves access to resources that support their learning needs and spark a love of learning. It was also time consuming and ,oftentimes, frustrating because it wasn’t always clear whether the materials we were using were of high caliber.

As I stepped into my role as a literacy coach, and then an assistant principal, I realized that this is all too common for many educators: they spend a significant amount of time as well as their own resources finding rigorous and high-quality instructional materials for their students. 

While teachers put their entire selves into providing the best education possible for each of their students, the fact remains that many curricula do not provide all of the resources and support teachers and effective teaching requires. Many do not offer support for students with learning disabilities, gifted students, or English language learners. Most often, they are focused more on learners finding the correct answers rather than helping students truly understand the problem or develop a deeper understanding of the importance of the process behind getting to the  correct answer. The implementation of High Quality Instructional Materials (HQIM) can help address many of these concerns.

Today marks a significant milestone for education in El Paso as CREEED and the El Paso Community Foundation announced a $3.4 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This investment is specifically aimed at enhancing math outcomes for students through the implementation of HQIM in math instruction. El Paso is one of only three regions in Texas to receive the grant.

The grant will support Clint Independent School District’s (Clint ISD) implementation of HQIM and will also provide support for the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) to conduct research on the impact of High Quality Instructional Materials as well as best practices that pre-service teachers can utilize when working with these materials. This research will help prepare future teachers for how to use these kinds of materials, reducing the likelihood of teacher attrition due to unfamiliar materials and a lack of resources.

HQIM also offers educators a valuable resource by reducing the amount of time and effort spent on researching and sourcing materials and allowing them to focus more on personalized instruction. These materials are designed to foster a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts, aligning with state standards and enhancing overall comprehension among students.

El Paso’s selection as one of only three regions in Texas to receive this grant underscores the significance of this initiative. It reflects a recognizable commitment among our community stakeholders to prioritize educational excellence and empower both students and educators.

The grant underscores the importance of research and continuous improvement. UTEP’s involvement will ensure that the impact of HQIM is thoroughly evaluated, and insights gained will inform future implementation strategies throughout the region.

Ultimately, this grant represents more than just a financial contribution. It confirms an investment in the future of El Paso, aiming to elevate educational attainment levels and provide both educators and students with the tools they need to succeed. As a former educator, I truly believe that with collaborative efforts from organizations like CREEED, the El Paso Community Foundation, Clint ISD, and UTEP, the potential for effective change in the local education landscape is immense for assuring high quality levels of education.

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