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Dept. of Ed Will Continue to Look for Effective Teachers, School Leaders Under ESSA

New Dept. of Ed Grant Program Aims to Develop Excellent Teachers, School Leaders

The Department of Education has announced its first teacher and school leader grant competition with approximately $159 million of funds available for distribution.

The grant competition is offering funding to "states, districts, and nonprofit organizations to support, train, and reward excellent teachers and school leaders," under the Teacher and School Leader (TSL) program created by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) said the Department of Education in a prepared statement.

"TSL, authorized under [ESSA], replaced the former Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) program, a $2 billion program that has funded similar efforts over the past 10 years. 2010 TIF grant recipient Prince William County Schools in Virginia was able to use their grant to increase educator collaboration, provide targeted professional development, and improve their teacher evaluation system," said the Department.

The competition looks to increase teacher and leader effectiveness in schools that serve students in high-need schools.

High-need schools are defined by ESSA as "a public elementary or secondary school that is located in an area in which the percentage of students from families with incomes below the poverty line is 30 percent or more."

"Enabling our highest-need students to learn from our most effective educators is critical to student success," the Department said.

The competition will not focus just on the effectiveness of teachers but will also focus on school leaders who are "crucial to strengthening teaching and school communities, and play a critical role in students' academic success—especially in high-need schools—by creating cultures of high expectations."

In order for applicants to compete, they must have an evaluation and support system for teachers and/or school leaders that "reflects clear and fair measures of performance, based in part on demonstrated improvement in student academic achievement" and will provide "ongoing, differentiated, targeted, and personalized support and feedback for improvement, including professional development opportunities designed to increase effectiveness during the entire project period."

The competitors must also address how their system will "inform key school- and district-level human capital decisions as decisions on preparation, recruitment, hiring, placement, retention, dismissal, compensation (including performance-based compensation), professional development, tenure, and promotion."

Read more about the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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