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Human Capital, STEM, & Evaluation Focus of $285M TIF Competition

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Today, the U.S. Department of Education released a 277-page report outlining updated priorities, application information, eligibility requirements, and other details for a fourth round of Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grants, which are set to be awarded this fall. The TIF 4 competition provides two grant opportunities. The General TIF Competition, according to a USDOE press release, is designed to support "district-wide evaluation systems that reward success, offer greater professional opportunities, and drive decision-making on recruitment, development, and retention of effective teachers and principals." The TIF Competition with a STEM Focus will provide funding focused on improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) instruction. An information packet for both TIF 4 competitions is available on USDOE's website.

Teacher Incentive Fund Background
The Teacher Incentive Fund was first introduced in 2006 by then-Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to encourage the education community and others to look at teacher and principal compensation in a different way. Since then, there have been three rounds of TIF grants, awarding more than $600 million to districts, states, and other education organizations.

TIF Round 4 Grant Information
Here are some key points of information for prospective TIF 4 applicants to keep in mind:
• To apply you must be an LEA (including charters), SEA, or nonprofit working with SEA's or LEA's.
• Groups who have received funds in the past are eligible to apply, but there are stipulations for districts that were awarded grants in TIF round 3.
• Final applications for are due July 27, 2012.
• The project length is 60 months or 5 years.
• Applicants must present information to prove that teachers and principals were involved in the creation of the application as well as throughout the process.
• Applicants must be able to show that the schools involved are high-needs. This includes high-poverty schools, priority schools, or persistently lowest-achieving schools. Specific definitions of these terms are spelled out in the TIF 4 information packet. Districts with some high needs schools and others that are not, may apply for TIF funds to support improvements in the schools that do meet the high needs requirement.

There are different requirements for the General TIF Competition grant and grants under the TIF Competition with a STEM Focus. However, applicants in both areas must address the following priorities to be eligible:

Priority 1: An LEA-wide Human Capital Management System (HCMS) with educator evaluation systems at the center.
An HCMS is defined on page 20 of the information packet as "a system by which an LEA makes and implements human capital decisions, such as decisions on recruitment, hiring, placement, retention, dismissal, compensation, professional development, tenure, and promotion."

Priority 2: LEA-wide educator evaluation systems based, in significant part, on student growth.

Priority 3: Improving student achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Priority 4: Competitive preference will be given to new or rural applicants to the Teacher Incentive Fund.

Priority 5: Competitive preference will be given to those who design an educator salary structure based on effectiveness

Funding Allocation
According to funding forecasts on the USDOE website for fiscal year 2012, the Department will award 30 TIF grants that average $9,482,045 a piece, making TIF Round 4 worth approximately $284,461,350.

Over the past three years, I've had the pleasure of working, in one way or another, with more than 40 school districts that have received a federal TIF grant. TIF provides innovative districts the opportunity to collaborate with teachers, principals, and the community to think outside the box when it comes to human capital issues. When teachers and principals are involved in a collaborative design process, districts are able to imagine, develop, and implement creative systems that recruit, reward, and retain highly effective staff.

If your district is interested in exploring grant opportunities through TIF 4, I suggest putting a team together to carefully comb through the 277-page application packet and think through strategies and next steps!


For more information on human capital and TIF, you can follow me on Twitter, @EmilyDouglasHC.

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