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AFT Awards Grants for Common-Standards Work

The American Federation of Teachers, which has been voicing concern recently about curriculum development for the common standards, has awarded a new round of grants that includes support for exactly that.

Announced yesterday at the start of the AFT's TEACH conference here in Washington, the grants have a broader reach than just common standards. The $800,000, awarded by the union's Innovation Fund, will span work in five cities and include creation of community schools, professional development for preschool teachers, and a program that links incentive pay to battling childhood obesity.

Union locals in Chicago and Albuquerque will use the grants to work on creating instructional materials, assessments, and professional development for the common standards, according to an AFT announcement. (Albuquerque, you might recall, is one of six AFT locals that won grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to do common-standards work after failing to win a federal i3 grant to do so. So is Boston, which won an earlier Innovation Fund grant to create online lessons for the new standards. See here for some background.) Making sure teachers are actively involved in common-standards work was a top priority for Innovation Fund grants this year.

Quick summaries of the grants, from the AFT's announcement:

• Chicago Teachers Union (Illinois), to design instructional units that include curriculum, instruction, and performance assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The units will focus on K-3 math, elementary interdisciplinary content, adolescent and young adulthood math, career and technical education, and English/language arts.

• Albuquerque Teachers Federation (New Mexico), to develop research-based professional development materials and model curricula that will help teachers of English-language learners implement the Common Core State Standards. The project, a partnership with PBS-affiliate WETA, will focus on teaching ELLs in grades 1, 4, and 8.

• AFT West Virginia and the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, to work with partner organizations to convert an elementary school and a middle school in Charleston into true community schools that offer a range of supports and opportunities for children, families and their communities, including health and social services.

• AFT St. Louis (Missouri), to develop a high-quality, districtwide professional development program for early childhood and pre-K teachers and paraprofessionals that builds on the union's previous successful advocacy for an increase in pre-K seats in the public school system.

• Denver Federation for Paraprofessionals and Nutrition Service Employees (Colorado), to create a model employee incentive-pay program called "The Good Food! Incentive Pilot" that will reinforce the district's nutrition and wellness efforts to combat obesity among schoolchildren.

This is the third round of grants from the Innovation Fund. Previous grants are summarized here.

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