Grants To Fuel Teacher-Led Instructional Improvement Programs

The University of California, Davis School of Education is taking a novel approach to boosting K-12 teacher effectiveness--distributing grant money to small teams of teachers and letting them decide how they want to spend it.

Using funds from a new $1 million grant awarded by the California Postsecondary Education Commission, a team from UC Davis, led by Joanne Bookmyer, director of teacher research at the Cooperative Research and Extension Services for Schools (CRESS) Center, will distribute grants of up to $30,000 to teams of three to five K-12 teachers, who will determine for themselves what measures they can take to improve their effectiveness in the classroom, engage students better, and gain greater mastery of the subject matter being taught.

"The teachers will decide what it is they would like to do that they think will have an impact in their classrooms," Bookmyer said in a statement released by UC David Tuesday. "We're going to say to them, 'You have this pot of money, you figure out what your school needs to engage your students and go out and get that training. Then, come back and put that training into practice in your classroom and schools.'"

Humboldt State University is also a partner in the project, which has been named the "Pacific Coast Teacher Innovation Network." Faculty members from the two universities will work with teachers from public and private schools, as well as charter schools. West Sacramento Early College Prep is also participating in the project. It's a charter school developed by UC Davis, Sacramento City College, and Washington Unified School District, all located in Northern California.

Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis. Schools eligible will be located "in the coastal region from Ventura County to Del Norte County and inland to Yolo County," according to information released by UC Davis. Twenty-four grants of up to $30,000 each will be awarded through the program.

"Ultimately, we hope that teachers in this project will be better able to engage their students," Bookmyer said. "We want them to be better teachers."

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

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