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CPEC Awards $2 Million in Grants to Help Teachers in "High Need" Schools

October 9, 2009

The California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) this week awarded $2 million for innovative grant projects to help small teams of K-12 teachers develop projects that enhance teaching and learning in their classrooms.

The funding will flow through the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of California, Davis, which will each receive three-year grants of $1,010,000 to manage the regional Teacher-Based Reform (T-BAR) Pilot Program.  The grants enable university faculty from schools of education and subject matter departments to work with 24 teams of three to five teachers from high-need schools to improve their teaching skills and content knowledge, helping to improve student performance.

The universities serve as master grantees that will select teams and administer the projects in their regions.  UCLA will select teams and manage projects in Los Angeles County.  UC Davis and Humboldt State University will award grants in the Coastal region, stretching from Ventura County to Del Norte County, and inland to Yolo County.

Over the past two decades, CPEC has awarded 200 Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) grants totaling more than $110 million.  The grants are funded through the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 to provide high quality professional development to K-12 teachers under the guidance of a university or college.

The T-BAR grants are somewhat different from the standard ITQ projects: They require small groups of teachers to identify and carry out the professional development that best meets their needs, tailoring it to their particular school and planting the seeds for improvements throughout their school. Similar projects funded in the late 1990s worked well, but did not include the rigorous evaluation that is now required to demonstrate how the projects affect student achievement.

“The T-BAR grants add an entrepreneurial spirit that allows the knowledge and skills of teacher teams to collaboratively assess their own needs and design good professional development, with the assistance of university experts, that can help every student realize their educational potential,” said CPEC Executive Director Karen Humphrey.

“This is a bottom-up program,” Commission Chair John Perez said. “Teachers will decide what they need and how to do it. The grants will help teachers at all levels address the complex needs of our schools.”

The California Postsecondary Education Commission advises the Governor and Legislature on higher education policy and fiscal issues. The Commission’s primary focus is to ensure that the state’s educational resources are used effectively to provide Californians with postsecondary education opportunities.

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Source: California Postsecondary Education Commission