New Haven wins $53M federal grant to support educators

Check out the New Haven Independent story here.

Sept. 27, 2012
Abbe Smith, NHPS Director of Communications
203-497-7015/ 203-676-0463 (cell)
Award is the largest financial national recognition of New Haven School Change initiative to date
U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro joined Mayor John DeStefano Jr., Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayo, Assistant Superintendent Garth Harries, district and city leaders as well as teachers and administrators from schools across the district to applaud today’s news that New Haven will receive a projected $53.4 million five-year competitive grant to support efforts to recognize, reward and grow teachers and administrators. A total of $12 million in funding will be available for this school year.
This major investment validates the progress New Haven has made with its School Change Initiative and the successes the district is beginning to see towards its goals of improving all schools and achieving academic excellence in all classrooms. This award will allow New Haven to take the next steps in improving student learning by increasing the effectiveness of teachers and administrators. The grant, from the federal Teacher Incentive Fund, will support the New Haven Professional Educator Program, an initiative aimed at cultivating teachers and administrators through individualized coaching and personal learning, as well as differentiated career opportunities and compensation. Also on hand for the announcement were New Haven Federation of Teachers President David Cicarella and School Administrators Association of New Haven President Peggy Moore to talk about the important role that teachers and administrators play in carrying out successful school change strategies.
"Some cities invest in sports teams. In New Haven, we invest in the future of our children. There is no greater economic development plan or violence reduction initiative than the success of New Haven School Change. And central to that success, to the success of our City, is supporting and developing the talent of those most vital to this effort, our educators. This grant is a major national honor for New Haven School Change and every educator, parent and student should feel proud today,” said Mayor DeStefano.
"Here in New Haven, our schools and teachers have led the way in demonstrating to the entire nation that strong teachers' unions, strong schools, and strong education reforms are all part of the puzzle,” said Rep. DeLauro. “We have shown that we value our teachers, the frontline and most crucial component of our education system. With these additional resources, we can continue to work together to recognize and develop excellence in teaching, and to support the teachers who have and continue to make a difference. This funding is a reflection of the hard work and cooperation educators and administrators have shown in New Haven."
“New Haven School Change would not be possible without the dedication and hard work of our teachers and principals. This grant award will help our educators achieve great things in the classroom and bring us closer to our goal of improving every school in the district.” Superintendent Mayo said.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for New Haven and profound recognition of the hard work we do here to improve schools. Teachers and leaders are the most important people in the district. This grant gives us the opportunity to treat them as the professionals they are,” said Assistant Superintendent Harries.
“We are thrilled to once again be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for our collaborative work here in New Haven. This extraordinary grant will significantly benefit teachers and ultimately student learning as we receive funding to sustain our School Change Initiative,” Cicarella said.
Through its School Change Initiative, New Haven has developed and implemented a nationally recognized reform effort in collaboration with the district’s teachers and administrators. A central pillar of this collaborative strategy has been educator evaluation and development systems, as well as a comprehensive leadership development programs.
New Haven will use the grant to build on this foundation to create a comprehensive and coherent career development program, with the following elements:
Individualized Evaluation and Coaching: NHPS will strengthen the ability of evaluators to provide feedback and coaching, broaden the resources and exemplars available as guides to good instruction, including video recording of lessons for non-evaluative feedback and/or display of exemplary practice, and strengthening the ability of educators to craft and assess student learning objectives.
Individualized Professional Learning: NHPS will strengthen the culture and systems of professional learning by creating a cadre of expert teachers with clearly designated skill areas, by expanding the opportunity for inter-visitation and peer-based learning, through the use of special substitute teacher roles, and by improving the use of the data about teacher and leaders strengths and development areas to inform professional learning.
Differentiated Career Opportunities: NHPS will expand career opportunities for strong and exemplary educators, positioning them to shape their fellow professionals through expert teacher and mentor principal roles aligned to their particular competencies, in addition to traditional routes to school and district leadership. NHPS will also strengthen the recruitment and selection of educators, by applying educator evaluation and development systems to screen candidates and by extending the use of pre-hiring experiences for candidates.
Differentiated Compensation: NHPS will work with the NHFT and SAA to use the grant to differentiate compensation under the current contracts, and to consider further differentiation in future contracts.  This could include differentiated career opportunities for exemplary teachers and leaders, for placements in the highest need schools, and for sustained and demonstrated excellence as a professional.
Consistent with New Haven’s track-record of collaborative and persistent reform, the governing board of the New Haven Professional Educator Program grant will be a Talent Council of three administrators and three teachers with explicit shared decision-making in overseeing the grant. In addition, the grant will strengthen talent organization and systems within the central office, as a key point of coordination in supporting the long term career development of teachers and leaders.
The U.S. Department of Education announced 35 grants awarded to reward great teachers and principals, and provide greater professional opportunities to teachers in high-poverty schools. Applicants submitted proposals that provide opportunities for teacher leadership and advancement, put in place district-wide evaluations based on multiple measures that include student growth, and improve decision-making through better evaluations.