With these funds, the Iowa Department of Education will partner with the UNI, Stanford University School Redesign Network, and UCLA's National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).
The grant partners will work together to define emerging attributes of effective teaching and integrating those attributes into both teacher preparation programs and continued professional development for beginning and experienced teachers.
A key innovation related to the work will be helping teachers use technology to create a compilation of examples of professional work and student performance. The electronic portfolio will allow administrators to evaluate both beginning and experienced teachers to improve effective teaching practices.
"The long-term effect a teacher has on students cannot be determined with one test one time a year," said Iowa Department of Education Director Judy Jeffrey. "In Iowa, we know that a portfolio of teacher work over time is a better indicator of a teacher's true impact on students. This grant will allow Iowa to partner with state and national experts to develop a truly effective, integrated approach to identifying and nurturing the qualities of effective teaching."
The education system in Iowa will benefit from a state-of-the-art evaluation system that will not only focus on standardized test scores as a means to measure teaching success, but rather a more qualitative evaluation system using the teacher work samples and performance assessments to evaluate student learning.
"We are very pleased to have the opportunity to play a role in positively affecting teacher quality and student learning through this partnership with the Iowa Department of Education and Stanford University," said Ben Allen, UNI president. "We are honored to have the support from the U.S. Department of Education and we look forward to providing the Department and Secretary Duncan strong benchmarks and best practices in enhancing teacher preparation in the state of Iowa."
Distinct components of the work of the grant include the use of innovation and technology in Iowa's classroom and UNI's educator preparation program. UNI teacher preparation students will be able to gain even more hands-on learning experiences by joining various classrooms of rural high-needs schools in Iowa through online technology such as video conferencing. The intention is to broaden this effort and make it available to all accredited teacher preparation programs in the state.
Also included will be opportunities for professional development for prekindergarden-12th grade administrators to improve retention of beginning and experienced teachers.
This is a five-year grant that will establish Iowa as a model of best practices in teaching and educator preparation in the United States.