$1M grant helping support Illinois teachers


    Classroom (WICS File Photo)
    The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) today released two applications for $1 million in state funds to expand teacher leadership and teacher residencies. The grants promote innovation in Illinois’ teacher workforce systems to help address the statewide teacher shortage.
    The release of the grants follows ISBE’s Teach Illinois: Strong Teachers, Strong Classrooms report, which identified evidence-based strategies to improve the recruitment, preparation, and retention of effective teachers. The study pointed to a lack of resources preventing the hardest-hit districts from implementing successful teacher recruitment and retention models: 90 percent of teacher vacancies in the 2017-18 school year occurred in districts funded below adequacy, as defined by state law.
    “Expanding and diversifying the teacher workforce is one of the State Board’s highest priorities,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “All students deserve learner-ready teachers in every classroom. The teacher shortage is a national crisis. The two grants launched today take a critical step toward the funding districts need to implement proven models for attracting and keeping effective teachers.”
    Teacher leaders model excellence in the classroom, coach and mentor colleagues, and work with principals to effect changes in school policies and culture that improve student outcomes. Four-hundred and seventy-two candidates have completed approved teacher leader programs across the state since ISBE updated the Teacher Leader license endorsement in 2012.
    The $250,000 available for the Teacher Leader Problems of Practice Grant will support districts in addressing local challenges to developing and retaining teacher leaders. District applicants will receive priority points for improving diversity and culturally responsive practices among teacher leaders. Underfunded school districts – those in Evidence-Based Funding Tiers 1 and 2 – will receive larger grants.
    The Teacher Residency Planning Grant makes $750,000 available specifically for districts serving high rates of low-income students or students of color and districts that have experienced chronic teacher shortages. The grant will support partnerships between institutions of higher education and high-need school districts to plan full-year teacher residencies.
    Teacher residencies place a teacher candidate in a classroom with a certified teacher to learn alongside them, similar to the residency model in the field of medicine. According to the Learning Policy Institute, “Research suggests that well-designed and well-implemented teacher residency models can create long-term benefits for districts, for schools, and ultimately and most importantly, for the students they serve.”
    Applications for the Teacher Leader Problems of Practice Grant are due no later than 4 p.m. on March 1. Applications for the Teacher Residency Planning Grant are due no later than 4 p.m. on Feb. 15. Access the applications at www.isbe.net/Pages/Request-for-Proposals.aspx.

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