Teacher Quality Grants

Title IIA, Educator Quality is a federal grant program designed to assist school districts in the huge task of developing and delivering quality professional development programs to their teachers. Title IIA is funding that is awarded from the US Government to the states, then allocated to the school districts within each state based on district demographics. The purpose of the grant has undergone subtle changes over the years; the current thrust is improving academic achievement by recruiting, training, and retaining highly qualified teachers.

Title IIA is a product of NCLB and The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Act requires all teachers of core academic subjects to demonstrate teacher quality compliance. The federal definition of a Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT):

  • teachers must hold at least a bachelor’s degree,
  • be appropriately licensed by the state, and
  • demonstrate subject matter competency.

Maintaining data on every teacher in a district is a huge job, some districts have a person whose entire job is monitoring teachers to make sure they are up to date on their certification with the state. A good monitor can make the difference between a loosely organized group of instructors to a stable of highly qualified teachers ready to make a difference in classrooms. Research consistently shows that the most important factor in improving academic achievement for students is their exposure to highly qualified teachers and top-notch instruction. The funds can pay this person’s salary.

There is regulatory guidance on the use of funds for this grant; the rules are very specific. Districts may pay for high quality staff development. The district must conduct an effective assessment of the schools’ needs for professional development and hiring, through meaningful consultation with teachers of all grades and subject areas, especially teachers in high-need schools. Once these needs have been identified, the curriculum specialists in the district set about the task of creating useful staff training to meet those needs.

The funds are not just for latest fads in teaching methods, and the funds may not usually be used for supplies such as textbooks or classroom learning kits. These items must be provided by the district. To buy them with Title IIA funds would be “supplanting”, using federal dollars to pay for things the district should be supplying with its local budget. I mention this to show you the little Easter eggs hidden in this federal grant opportunity (actually all grants).

Applying for the grant requires the submission of a “consolidated application” which includes the application for Title I and other state pass-through grants to districts. Don’t take it upon yourself to apply for these funds. If you are in a large school district, trust me, the Superintendent has a designated grants manager who is responsible for making sure these applications are filed each year. You might identify that person and see if she wants help “out in the trenches” in gaining information from the meaningful consultation alluded to earlier. This would be an appropriate and truly helpful way for you to become involved in the huge task of bringing in these dollars. Depending on your districts’ poverty numbers, it can amount to millions of dollars.

In the application, it is helpful to let the state liaison know that your district is actively engaged in bringing in experts and staff development consultants to help bring teachers up to date on current research, trends, and methods in staff training. For instance, your curriculum teams in the schools have analyzed the data from this year’s academic achievement tests and found deficits in mathematics in the 4th Grade. You’ve done your research and found that there are blended learning approaches to teaching the standards that are represented most as weak in those test scores. It is responsible and expected to bring in outside help to teach teachers how to implement the technology you’ve identified. It is not appropriate to buy new computers or software to deliver the instruction. Sometimes, through meaningful consultation with your state grants liaison, you can get around this if the materials are critical to the success of the program.

Another example of the complexity of this grant is how each district is required to share some of the funds with the private schools within the district. Don’t shriek, I know this is counterintuitive, but private school kids are “our kids” too, that’s the philosophy at work here. I’ve written about this in other articles.

Resources for spending your Title IIA funds appropriately:

Finding Consultants to Teach Teachers
List of Ed Consultants
School Improvement Network
Professional Development MOOCs (massive open online courses)
Choosing Effective PD
Selecting Online PD courses
EdWeek’s PD DIrectory (huge list of PD providers)

Let me know how you’re doing. You may network with me by leaving a comment below.


This entry was posted in Grant Research, Grant Writing on by .

About Neva Fenno

Neva Fenno, M.S.Ed., MLIS, has been a special education teacher, school library media specialist, curriculum specialist and grants manager for several urban school districts in New York and Massachusetts for 30 years. As grants manager for 7 years, she managed up to $28,000,000 a year in federal, state, foundation and corporate grants from application through fiscal administration. She has hundreds of stories to tell, not all successes, but from each story there is a lesson to be learned.

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