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Oregon State University has received a $400,000 grant that it will use to study how to assist students who are English learners and also have disabilities.

OSU received the grant from the Chicago-based Spencer Foundation. The OSU project will be led by Karen Thompson, an assistant professor in the College of Eudcation.

The grant will help the university continue work it began in 2012 when it established the Oregon English Learner Alliance. The alliance works in a partnership with the Oregon Department of Education.

The number of English language learners in Oregon has grown dramatically during the past 20 years, and 30 percent of those who have not yet reached English proficiency also qualify for special education services.

“That has implications for English learner education as well as for special education services, which are open quite separate,” Thompson said. “Ultimately we have to partner with districts to design and pilot new tools for this group of students.”

One possible solution Thompson and others are trying is to initiate a dual language program to prepare teachers to teach content in two languages.

The Spencer Foundation money is the second such grant OSU has received to work on the issue. In July 2014 the university received grant funding of more than $400,000, which included $399,000 from the federal Department of Education and $29,000 from WestEd, a nonprofit research agency. The earlier grant funding expires July 31.

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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