Funding, Grants & Awards

Tennessee ED To Share in $4.99 Million Grant To Improve Teacher Evaluations

A coalition of education institutions has been awarded a five-year $4.99 million grant from the Department of Education's Institute for Education Sciences to look into how state education systems can drive instructional improvement with teacher evaluations.

Institutions participating in the research include the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE), Brown University, Vanderbilt University and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The grant will build on two years of work undertaken by Brown, TDOE and Harvard to create the Instructional Partnership Initiative, which "uses data to recommend partnerships between teachers with strengths in particular areas of practice and teachers who have room to grow in those same areas," according to a news release. "The two teachers are then encouraged to work together throughout the year to build instructional skills. Thus, the initiative relies on peers to implement tailored professional learning with no financial cost to districts or schools."

A pilot study has shown the initiative to be effective in improving student achievement, teacher performance and teacher views of the evaluation system.

"The goal is to provide rigorous and actionable evidence to inform state policy and to build a broader understanding of the ways in which teacher evaluation can lead to professional growth," said John Papay, assistant professor of education and economics at Brown, in a prepared statement. "This grant will allow us to fund a much larger research effort to examine the implementation and impact of the Instructional Partnership Initiative as TDOE rolls it out more broadly across the state."

"We are committed to the continuous improvement of our state programs," said Nathaniel Schwartz, chief research and strategy officer at TDOE, in a news release. "This grant allows us to undertake rigorous research to learn more about how teachers can best support their peers' instructional improvement. We expect to use the results of this research to shape both the Instructional Partnership Initiative, which makes innovative use of feedback from our teacher evaluation system, as well as other state strategies for classroom improvement in years to come."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].