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School Improvement of RFP of the Week (1)

Why Does Tax Status Matter to a Teacher Induction RFP?

From the December 31 issue of K-12Leads and Youth Service Markets Report.

Announcement: Beginning Teacher Induction Pilot Program Due January 23 (Dec 23) Illinois Department of Education

Their Description:
Nearly half of all new teachers leave the classroom within their first five years of service and in some Chicago schools, that figure is as high as 75 percent.... According to one estimate, Illinois school districts now spend more than $224 million annually because of turnover among teachers.

Induction, a menu of professional support services for beginning teachers that typically includes mentoring, professional development, and assessment of teaching practice, has proven to be one of the most effective tools in retaining new teachers and improving their skills....

Article 21A of the School Code sets forth the requirements for the New Teacher Induction and Mentoring Program. Article 21A requires every public school to have an induction and mentoring program that meets the requirements of the law if the statewide appropriation is sufficient to fund $1,200 for each new teacher in the schools.

In years when the appropriation is insufficient, however, the Illinois State Board of Education makes grants available to establish a Beginning Teacher Induction Pilot Program. Under this pilot effort, each proposed program must be based on a plan that at least does all of the following:

• Assigns a mentor teacher to each new teacher for a period of at least two years.

• Aligns with the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards, content area standards, and applicable local school improvement and professional development plans, if any.

• Addresses all of the following elements and how they will be provided:
o Mentoring and support of the new teacher;
o Professional development specifically designed to ensure the growth of the new teacher’s knowledge and skills; and
o Formative assessment designed to ensure feedback and reflection, which must not be used in any evaluation of the new teacher.

• Describes the role of the mentor teachers, the criteria and process for their selection, and how they will be trained, provided that each mentor teacher must demonstrate the best practices in teaching his or her respective field of practice....

Programs will be required to serve no fewer than 10 new teachers, and all teachers served with grant funds must be in their first year of teaching. Each teacher served must hold an initial certificate (which may be an initial alternative certificate) or a provisional or alternative certificate... No program may serve more than 75 new teachers unless the narrative portion of the proposal includes a specific rationale to demonstrate that each new teacher in the program will receive comparable and adequate attention and support....

Approximately $6.5 million will be available for grants under this program.... It is the intention of the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to approve funding for projects for a three-year period....

Eligible applicants include school districts, public university laboratory schools approved by the Illinois State Board of Education, charter schools, and area vocational centers. A partnership... made up of one or more such entities and one or more institutions of higher education, professional associations, regional offices of education, or not-for-profit providers of educational services may also apply....

My Thoughts:
The rationale for requiring schools districts to be part of a teacher induction program application is obvious. Why their partners must be universities, government agencies or nonprofits is not. What should matter is the capacity to support the work in the RFP. Taxpayers, teachers and students would be better served if school districts were encouraged to seek good partners rather than a tax status.

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