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UW System announces grants to boost academic achievement in high-need schools (Jan 12, 2012)

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January 12, 2012

UW System announces grants to boost academic achievement in high-need schools

MADISON – The University of Wisconsin System today announced $1.1 million in grants to 13 educational partnerships. The selected projects aim to increase the academic achievement of pre-kindergarten (PK) through 12th-grade students in core subjects by enhancing teachers' knowledge and skills.

The UW System awards these competitive grants with funds from the U. S. Department of Education as part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  Each funded partnership must involve faculty members from an institution of higher education representing both teacher preparation and the arts and sciences, as well as one or more high-need school districts. Additional education-related partners may be involved.

Grants announced today range from $54,000 to $157,000 with more than 120 participating colleges, schools, and agencies. Both public and private universities and colleges are eligible to submit proposals.

“We appreciate this federal investment, which has resulted in real learning outcomes for Wisconsin students and the sustainability of important educational partnerships throughout the state,” said UW System President Kevin P. Reilly. “This arrangement is in keeping with the collaborative culture that has been carefully nurtured in this state to foster successful PK-16 ventures that advance quality educational opportunity for all students.”

The partnership grants were awarded as follows:

  • Mathematics: UW-Milwaukee, UW-Eau Claire, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Platteville, and Silver Lake College
  • Science: UW-Platteville, UW-Oshkosh, and two separate projects at UW-Madison
  • Literacy: UW-Oshkosh, UW-Stevens Point, and Cardinal Stritch University
  • Music education: UW-Green Bay

A broad-based team of 16 reviewers selected the 13 funded projects from 25 submitted proposals.  The reviewers represented Wisconsin K-12 school administrators, teachers, university professors, Cooperative Educational Service Agencies (CESAs), and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

The grant program is unique because it requires a high degree of collaboration between university content experts, university education faculty, and K-12 high-need schools.

“Creativity and innovation discovered through relevant classroom experience and connections to colleges and universities have the potential to spark new levels of professional development for teachers and academic achievement for students,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers. “The partnerships and collaboration supported by these grants will go a long way in helping prepare educators, students and future teachers for success.”

Past projects have demonstrated a host of benefits:

  • Improved mathematics achievement for K-12 Native American and minority students by enhancing teachers’ math and teaching skills;
  • Development of school coaches and leaders for K-12 math and science teachers;
  • Improved reading comprehension for Pre-K-5 students; and
  • Overall improved student achievement through teachers understanding and adopting new standards. 

An additional benefit has been the collaboration of university content and pedagogy faculty with K-12 school districts.  This collaboration has resulted in beneficial changes to long-standing university classes, as well as continued support to K-12 schools from university personnel after projects have ended.

“This is a major piece of legislation that provides major investments in teachers, principals, schools and students and, most importantly, provides a better education to millions of American children,” said Phil Makurat, UW System Coordinator of the ESEA Improving Teacher Quality Grant Program and UW-Whitewater Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Education.

“Wisconsin has a great process for funding of state teacher development initiatives that supports K-12 and higher education collaboration at the state and local levels, which has resulted in coherent statewide policies, practices and reform of teacher professional development,” said Makurat. “We look forward to working with Congress to build on the successes of the teacher preparation programs.”

ESEA is the major federal statute governing public education across the country. Congress last reauthorized it in 2002, as No Child Left Behind, and is currently working to rewrite the law.

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Media Contact:
David Giroux
UW System
608-262-4464