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July 28, 2003

$5 Million Carnegie Grant To Help
Train Teachers For A New Era

In what has turned out to be a successful and rewarding partnership, the Neag School of Education and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences teamed up to pursue a highly competitive grant from the Carnegie Corp. of New York.

Carnegie has named the University one of seven institutions designated as a "Teachers for a New Era" school, and has awarded a five-year, $5 million grant to be shared by the Neag School and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to improve the quality of teachers.

The grant provides a significant boost to Campaign UConn, as the University's fund-raising effort enters its final year.

Beginning this fall, faculty in education and liberal arts and sciences will work hand-in-hand, with assistance from the University's cultural institutes and centers, to increase research collaboration, analyze and redesign curriculum in general education and content courses, and develop new tools for assessing how the quality of teachers affects student performance.

"Research has shown that high quality teachers directly impact student learning and achievement," says Richard Schwab, dean of the Neag School. He adds that the grant is a recognition of good work, and will enable the School to build upon the strengths of its teacher education program, including its long partnership with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For the last decade, the Neag School, unlike most others in the country, has required students to acquire a firm grounding in the liberal arts and sciences. Before being accepted into the Integrated Bachelor's/Master's teacher education program, prospective students are required to take general education courses and declare an academic major through the College.

Ross MacKinnon, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, believes the Carnegie Grant "will consolidate and augment existing collaborations with the Neag School. It provides the college with the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research, implementation, and assessment in a national initiative to improve K-12 teaching," he says.

"Teachers for a New Era" is aimed at "developing state-of-the-art schools of education focused on evidence-driven teacher education programs." A network of 11 higher education institutions has been established to serve as a source for education policymakers involved in setting the nation's agenda in terms of best research, practice, and results in preparing teachers for the classroom, explains Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corp. of New York.

"We think these schools - in time - can make a difference in how teachers are educated and regarded as professionals," Gregorian says.

The UConn proposal meets three critical design principles required by Carnegie. First, graduates' effectiveness must be measured by documenting their students' achievements. Second, the arts and sciences must be involved in the teacher training program; and third, new teachers will continue to be evaluated in the classroom while undergoing continuous professional development.

As part of the UConn plan, a Center for Collaborative Learning, consisting of seven academies, will be established. The areas of focus will be: assessment, analysis, and development; teaching and learning; technological advancement; numeracy and literacy; multicultural issues; continuous learning; and research and practice. The academies will be headed by faculty and supported by doctoral students from both the Neag School and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Making the grade for this award was no small feat. The RAND Corp. was hired by Carnegie to conduct an independent analysis of all schools of education in the country. As a result, 15 were identified as being the best and were invited to submit a preliminary proposal for the funding. Seven, including the Neag School, were then selected to undergo an extensive evaluation. During a site visit, the Carnegie team met with faculty and administrators, and toured several public schools partnered with the Neag School's teacher education program.

In partnership with the Annenberg, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations, the Carnegie Corp. is investing more than $65 million into reforming teacher preparation. Other institutions selected for the Teachers for a New Era initiative are: Boston College; Florida A&M University; Stanford University; the University of Texas at El Paso; the University of Washington; and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. They join four that were chosen last year: Bank Street College of Education in New York City; California State University, Northridge; Michigan State University; and the University of Virginia. Each institution is required to match the grant received from Carnegie.