Indiana University

News Release

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Last modified: Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"Urban Education Excellence" project for School of Education at IUPUI earns federal grant

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Oct. 7, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana University School of Education at IUPUI has received from the U.S. Department of Education a five-year, $2.7 million Teacher Quality Partnership grant for a new teacher residency program.

The grant expands the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship program and will lead to a master's degree in education with graduates licensed to teach both general and special education. It is one of only 28 grants the federal government is awarding to improve instruction in struggling schools.

According to the Department of Education, the grants are intended to create new pathways in teacher preparation and teacher residency programs, while providing high-need schools more teachers and the means to support their work. "The Teacher Quality Partnership grants will improve student academic achievement by strengthening teacher preparation, training and effectiveness, and help school districts attract potential educators from a wide range of professional backgrounds into the teaching profession," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a news release.

The grant will fund the IU School of Education's "Urban Education Excellence" project, a partnership among Indianapolis Public Schools, the IU School of Education at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the Purdue School of Science at IUPUI. Twenty students will be recruited in partnership with the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation from undergraduate programs at universities that traditionally serve underrepresented groups.

As with the other Woodrow Wilson Teacher Fellows at IUPUI, students will be recruited to teach in the "STEM" disciplines -- science, technology, engineering and math. Each will receive a living stipend to go through a residency that includes completing coursework toward the master's degree and dual licensure in special education while spending a year in an IPS partner school under the mentorship of a master teacher.

"I think one of the most unique features is that it will provide both the general education and the special education teacher certification," said Pat Rogan, executive associate dean of the IU School of Education and the project's director, who added that alternative pathways to teaching should include extensive time in classrooms paired with rigorous coursework and a strong mentoring component.

"In addition, to ensure success, the program has a two-year follow-up induction program and professional development program," Rogan said. "So we'll be establishing a teacher collaborative to support those teachers and keep them connected and supported through those first years in the urban school."

The project framework establishes rigorous graduate coursework along with intensive clinical experiences designed to prepare teachers to meet the unique learning needs of students, particularly those with special needs and limited English language skills. Project evaluation includes collecting data on student outcomes and teacher effectiveness. By the end of the grant period, a well-developed teacher residency model will be in place that can be used in areas other than teaching the STEM disciplines.

"The Teacher Quality Partnership grant gives us an opportunity to expand the extensive array of high-quality, alternative certification programs we already provide our students," said Gerardo Gonzalez, dean of the IU School of Education. "Receiving one of these highly competitive national awards is further recognition of the outstanding work our IUPUI faculty is doing to prepare highly qualified teachers for our most challenged urban schools in the state."

Rogan added that the intensity of the teacher residency model, which has the students "on the ground in schools every day," will make the program particularly effective, and that the structure will enable these new teachers to be better prepared for working with special-need student in the general education setting.

"We feel that it is really important that we prepare these educators to serve the diversity of students," Rogan said. "They also need to be aware of and adept at collaborating and co-teaching with people whose primary role is in special education. So by offering the dual certification, they will clearly be highly qualified and well-prepared for the urban classroom."

The federal award was made Oct. 1, 2009. The Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, announced in December 2007 and funded with $10.1 million from The Lilly Endowment, builds upon a tradition of alternative pathways to teaching built through the School of Education's "Transition to Teaching" program. It launched its first class of 80 fellows during the summer 2009.

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