Betsy DeVos: DOE Grant to UNF Will Help Improve Teaching on the First Coast

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has awarded the University of North Florida $1.6 million to improve its teacher training.

UNF announced its College of Education and Human Services was awarded a $1.6 million Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) grant from DOE “to support innovative teacher preparation models that prepare prospective and new teachers to serve students in high-need schools.”

The funds come from more than 30 DOE grants totaling $20.1 million. UNF was the only university in the Sunshine State to receive one of the grants.

“We know a great teacher is the foundation of a great education,” said U.S. Education Sec. Betsy DeVos. “By ensuring teachers are able to continually grow and improve in ways that excite and challenge them, we can help students succeed. These grants will help foster meaningful professional development opportunities, especially in the often-lacking areas of STEM and computer science-focused training.”

“The grant, which will be awarded over the next five years, supports a partnership of three colleges at UNF in collaboration with Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) and a network of high-need elementary and secondary schools,” UNF noted. “The project, Transforming Teacher Preparation for Duval County (TTPD) through Teacher Residencies, aims to enhance the recruitment, preparation, induction, and retention of elementary and secondary educators in a large, high-need, urban school district. TTPD is designed to achieve three primary goals: increase the number of teachers certified to teach high need subjects and grades, increase retention of highly effective teachers in DCPS high-need schools/subjects, and increase the motivation and performance of high-need DCPS students.”

UNF welcomed the funds and weighed in on how they will be used.

“This grant is an excellent example of how we can collaboratively develop and enhance the teacher pipeline through strong partnerships,” said Dr. Diane Yendol-Hoppey, the COEHS dean. “It is also a testament to our university’s and college’s commitment to improving teacher preparation through on-going collaborative innovation.”

“While Duval County students are becoming increasingly diverse, requiring teachers to improve how they use data to differentiate instruction, the number of highly qualified teachers in the district lags considerably behind the Florida average. This project will directly address this deficiency, and we have created a strong team to take on the challenge,” said Dr. Paul Parkison, the chairman of the Department of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum.

UNF offered some insights on how the funds will be used.

“The project capitalizes on the valuable math and science competencies provided by the University’s College of Arts and Sciences and College of Computing, Engineering, and Construction as well as hands-on professional development experiences provided by partners as Northeast Florida Center for STEM Education, Code.org, STEM2 Hub and the UNF STEP Lab,” UNF noted.

“UNF and DCPS share a longstanding commitment to quality teacher preparation, as evidenced through programs such as the Jacksonville Teacher Residency and UNF’s Professional Development School Network. DCPS is committed to hiring qualified graduates from the TTPD program and to address a DCPS priority, TTPD will make special consideration for applicants that reflect the Jacksonville communities in which they will teach, as well as consideration of individuals from underrepresented populations in the teaching profession,” UNF added.

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com

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