$5.9 Million for Teacher Quality Enhancement grants
The U.S. Department of Education has awarded $5.9 million for eight new projects designed to better train teachers for the challenges of today’s classrooms.
“This program takes traditional teacher education off the campus and into the heart of the classroom and community,” Secretary Richard Riley said. “These beginning-teacher grants are an added benefit for school districts that have trouble attracting and retaining teachers, especially secondary teachers with strong backgrounds in the subjects they teach.”
The grants support partnerships involving one or more college or university teacher preparation programs, university-level schools of arts and sciences, and a high-need K-12 school district. A K-12 district is considered “high need” if at least one of its elementary or secondary schools has 50 percent or more of its students from families with incomes below the poverty line, more than a third of its secondary teachers are not teaching in the content area in which they were trained to teach, or 15 percent or more of its teachers have left in the last three years.
Among the program’s four priorities is integrating technology in training, so beginning teachers can use technology effectively in the classroom.
California State University at Northridge received nearly $240,000 this year (and nearly $1.2 million over five years) to work with the Los Angeles Unified School District to improve new teachers’ ability to integrate their field experiences into the classroom and to show them how to use technology to improve student achievement in elementary schools. Another winner, Bowling Green State University, has been awarded nearly $790,000 this year (and $4,154,493 over five years) to work with several local organizations and the Toledo Public School District to create an interactive, web-based teacher professional development system.
$4.8 million for New Jersey’s Access-Collaboration-Equity program
New Jersey’s State Board of Education has awarded 26 grants worth $4.8 million to help schools with large numbers of disadvantaged students to purchase computers, connect to the internet, and educate students and parents about effective use of technology resources. The new program, known as Access-Collaboration-Equity (ACE), will make 24 more grants worth another $2.6 million in the next few months.
The key to the program is developing after-school programs that will give students and parents access to computers they could not otherwise afford. “We know that most students who come from low-income households are unable to access and use a computer at home,” said state Commissioner of Education David Hespe. “Through the ACE grants, school districts will be able to operate community centers for disadvantaged students and their families to use when school is not in session.”
ACE is funded through two federal grantsGoals 2000 and the Technology Literacy Challenge Fundat up to $200,000 per grant recipient. Economically disadvantaged school districts serve as lead agencies for these grants and collaborate with community partners, businesses, municipalities, and statewide organizations to develop, staff, and plan activities at ACE centers. Each center will be staffed by qualified professionals after school and on weekends at public locations, including schools, libraries, community centers, or housing complexes, said state ED representative Rich Vespucci.
Winning applicants proposed programs that would, among other activities, enable students to complete homework and develop classroom presentations, perform online research, communicate with experts elsewhere in the world, teach family members how to use technology, and work in groups on projects that support New Jersey’s Core Curriculum Content Standards.
$100,000 in tech support services for Minnesota schools
Nine Minnesota schools and districts are piloting a program aimed at reducing routine calls to computer help lines by 30 percent through services donated by Netven LLC of Austin, Texas, and KnowledgeBroker Inc. The companies value the services at nearly $100,000.
Under the program, technical support personnel at selected schools and districts will receive complimentary access for the 2000-01 school year to Netven’s PC-HMO web-based support tools, as well as the “Ask Me Online” web portal developed by KnowledgeBroker Inc., a leading provider of technical support content.
Minnesota’s Office of Technology, which developed the project and chose the grant recipients, believes the program will improve computer users’ ability to get answers to routine questions without calling on overtaxed school district workers. Integrated internet-based training and support will improve user and support staff abilities to operate the systems, said Paul Wasko, the state’s manager of education technology initiatives.
The grants are divided into three categories. District-wide grants are targeted toward school districts considering or actively providing centralized technical support for teachers and staff members. The other two grant programs directly engage students. In one, Cisco Academies will use PC-HMO and Ask Me Online to educate students as front-line help desk staff members. The tech-prep support development grant goes a step further, establishing an intensive training program for students in both technical and customer-service skills.
When the program ends, schools can decide to continue the service at a predetermined cost.
Contact: Jim Schwartz, Minnesota Department of Administration’s Communications Office, at (651) 284-3351