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Frequently Asked Questions

Improving Teacher Quality Program

Can after-school intervention be part of the project?

It can be a component of a project, but grant funds may not be used to support professional development of after-school staff who are not credentialed teachers or who work off-site. After-school staff may be included in activities and may play a role in a well-conceived professional development plan, but unless they are full-time teachers at the treatment school, matching funds must be utilized to pay for any direct costs their participation will incur.

Can part of the professional development be delivered by principals and teacher leaders (with the IHE staff delivering some components)?

There is no set percentage that the IHEs must deliver. However, IHE staff should be deeply involved in the professional development design, and are responsible for managing and ensuring the effective and coherent delivery of the whole intervention.

Can we fit English Language (EL) skills for teachers into this model such as math teachers struggling with their own EL skills?

Yes. In fact, this has potential to be an excellent model. Assisting teachers to strengthen their language skills in order to help students develop language competency within the context of other subjects is a completely acceptable strategy.

Can we provide college credit to teacher participants?

College credit may be provided to teacher participants as an alternative to stipends or substitute costs, so long as the college credit is for activities that are part of the professional development offered by the project. While the purpose of the grant may not be to advance teachers to additional degrees, earning credit toward a degree (except a pre-service degree) is an acceptable byproduct of a grant award.

How does this tie into the district's plan required by the state for student improvement?

Proposers should be aware of any improvement plans and reform efforts underway in the school(s) they intend to serve. Successful proposers will build on these efforts and will complement them rather than compete with them. Projects that simply layer on another responsibility for teachers to other demands are less likely to succeed. Instead, the project proposed should supplement and harmonize with other work being conducted in the school(s) as part of a coherent plan.

If you are doing multiple subjects, how can you avoid giving teachers too much and expect them to implement in all subjects at once?

It is suggested that projects do not try to cover all the core academic subjects permitted, but limit themselves to one subject or to two or three related subjects. Any project that proposes to do more than one subject should provide a coherent plan for how content will be delivered and teachers will be guided in implementation. There is no single way to do this—it will be up to the proposer.

Other than current teachers, who else may be served by these projects? What about principals, paraprofessionals, and preservice teachers?

The ITQ projects are intended primarily to support people who are currently teachers and their principals. Projects are especially encouraged to provide professional development for principals in the targeted schools to better prepare them to lead whole school reform efforts. They may be included in professional development activities and project data collection, and help to build teamwork within their schools. Projects may not use grant funds to support professional development for principals that is required for administrative advancement. Paraprofessionals may also be included if they are preparing to be teachers, based on federal guidelines in Section G-18 of the Title II-A Non-Regulatory Guidance.

However, paraprofessionals not preparing to be teachers, and preservice teachers who are not paraprofessionals, are not eligible to be supported by grant funding. They may be involved in the project, but the costs of serving them must be paid for out of other funding sources.

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We want to work on reading and language arts, so who could we work with at the IHE since there is no "language arts department?"

In the case of this and other subject areas, the IHE structure may not exactly align with content areas. In this case, you should identify the department or departments that can provide the subject matter expertise you need and explain the choice of entity and selection of personnel in your proposal.

What are allowable activities that may be funded with an ITQ grant?

There are two major areas of allowable activities with specific elements:
  • Professional development activities in core academic subjects to ensure that:
    • Teachers, highly qualified paraprofessionals, and principals (if appropriate) have subject-matter knowledge in the academic subjects the teachers teach, and
    • Principals have the instructional leadership skills to effectively work with teachers in helping students master core academic subjects.
  • Developing and providing assistance to LEAs and their teachers and related staff in providing sustained, high-quality professional development that:
    • Ensure those individuals can use challenging State academic content standards, student achievement standards and state assessments to improve instructional practices and student academic achievement;
    • May include intensive programs to prepare some school personnel to provide professional development as described above to others in their schools, and
    • May include activities of partnerships involving one or more LEAs, their schools, and one or more IHEs to improve teaching and learning at low-performing schools.
Overall, the SAHE-administered portion of the Improving Teacher Quality Program is designed to facilitate the involvement of institutions of higher education in providing high quality, sustained professional development, making sure that subject matter and pedagogy expertise are available to high-need local educational agencies in order to carry out the purposes of the No Child Left Behind Act Title II-A.

What are the "core academic subjects" covered by the grants?

These subjects are Mathematics, Science, English, Reading or Language Arts, Foreign Languages, Civics and Government, Economics, Arts, History, and Geography. In California, applicants are expected to ground the professional development they offer in the State's adopted standards in each subject.

What do the acronyms used by this program mean?

The following are the acronyms most frequently used in the Improving Teacher Quality grant competition:
  • CPEC – California Postsecondary Education Commission (state agency that administers the ITQ Program)
  • ED – U.S. Department of Education (federal funding agency)
  • IHE – Institution of Higher Education (public and private colleges and universities)
  • ITQ – Improving Teacher Quality (Title II-A federally funded state grants program)
  • NCLB – the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (federal law that funds elementary and secondary education programs)
  • LEA – Local Educational Agency (school districts and county offices of education; for ITQ grants, only districts may be a "mandated" partner)
  • RFP – Request for Proposals (notification and requirements to compete for an ITQ grant)
  • IRB – Institutional Research Board

What is the purpose of the Improving Teacher Quality State Grants Program?

The State Grants Program administered by the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) is part of Title II-A of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The overall purpose of Title II-A is to increase the academic achievement of all students by helping schools and districts improve teacher and principal quality and ensure that all teachers are highly qualified. A portion of Title II-A funding is allocated to State Agencies for Higher Education like CPEC to fund competitive grants to partnerships involving colleges and universities. These partnerships use the funds to conduct professional development activities in core academic subjects to ensure that teachers, highly qualified paraprofessionals, and (if appropriate) principals have subject-matter knowledge in the academic subjects they teach and that they are also using effective teacher strategies to support student achievement in those subjects.

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