Towson, MD (April 27, 2011): As part of its mission to provide faculty the most useful, current, and relevant information about funding programs of interest to Towson University faculty, the Office of Sponsored Programs & Research sent a representative to a Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) technical assistance workshop on April 11, 2011. The workshop provided information and tips for applying to MHEC’s Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) grant program. This program supports teacher professional development to help high-need schools and districts develop highly qualified teachers and instructional leaders. Grants support programs that provide content-rich professional development for teachers, principals, and highly qualified paraprofessionals in core academic areas or in the use of data and technology to help teachers improve their instruction. Grants are awarded to partnerships of higher education institutions and Local Education Agencies (LEAs).
At the workshop, MHEC staff discussed changes to the ITQ program for this competition. LEAs eligible for partnering opportunities must be in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Prince George’s County, or Dorchester County. However, as noted at the workshop, schools from other counties may also be served by the proposed project in addition to the LEA from these named counties, although any interested Investigator should contact the Program Office, Melinda Vann, to discuss such a plan before making partnering agreements.
The focus on core academic areas during this competition is wider than in previous years, in which Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines were given priority. This cycle specifically notes that eligible content areas for the professional development include the arts, civics and government, economics, English, foreign language, geography, history, mathematics, reading or language arts, and science. In addition, MHEC has set a priority on helping teachers gain certification in “out of field” teaching assignments.
The workshop also addressed concerns and questions from attendees, expanding on the information available in the program guidelines. While the guidelines specify that projects must provide intensive professional development of at least ninety contact hours to participants, Ms. Vann clarified that on-line professional development contact hours are accessible as long as this time is moderated by project staff. She further specified that synchronous on-line contact would easier to justify than asynchronous contact time.
Finally, MHEC staff at the workshop gave specific advice for writing ITQ proposals. Of particular focus was the need for well thought out, integrated evaluation plans, which include pre and post testing for participants and assess student impact. However, evaluation should not be unduly costly; MHEC staff estimated the evaluation costs should represent only about ten percent of the total direct cost of the project. Further information, additional advice from the workshop, and copies of OSPR’s notes taken at the event are all available for any faculty interested in applying to the ITQ program; please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
Office of Sponsored Programs & Research