Innovative Teacher Prep2Practice Guidelines
Grant Opportunity at a Glance
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is requesting applications for the Innovative Teacher Prep2Practice grant.
Grant Purpose: To stimulate the creation of highly cohesive and innovative clinical experiences for aspiring teachers that make explicit connections across the three stages of clinical experience: (1) early clinical experiences starting in the first year of a preparation program; (2) a capstone clinical experience, often referred to as a student teaching or residency experience; and (3) a post-graduate clinical experience, which often takes the form of an induction program.
Performance Period: Funding may be used during the 2022-23 academic year.
Eligible Applicants: Current PDE-approved educator preparation programs may apply. Programs partnering with one or more high-need local education agencies receive priority.
Award Amount: Approximately $2 million is available to fund awards of up to $100,000 each.
How to Apply: Apply in the PDE
eGrants online grants management system.
Contact: Contact the Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education at
Challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have added to longstanding issues surrounding the preparation of teachers. When Local Education Agencies (LEAs) shifted abruptly to remote learning to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, institutions of higher education (IHEs) were also required to shift learning modalities away from in-person instruction toward remote learning during the spring of 2020 and beyond. This pivot in the delivery of instruction in Pennsylvania disrupted the academic trajectory of K-12 students, the postsecondary journeys of college students preparing to become teachers, and the student teaching field experience. Novice teachers have now entered the profession with less than the customary level of preparation, and all teachers face a significant challenge as the shift continues toward greater reliance on remote and online learning in its many forms.
Educators are being asked to be more than just teachers, and many may find themselves addressing challenges that fall outside of what they received as part of their pre-service experience and/or professional development. Teachers are addressing the social and emotional needs heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic occurred at a time when it is critically important for
all educators to be well versed in culturally relevant and sustaining approaches to address the inequities being revealed in stark detail by the COVID-19 crisis. The commonwealth needs teachers to be able to support the success of their students.
The disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic also shed light on very real inequities and concerns that are present in our systems of education. Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has been developing programs and initiatives to address shortages and the absence of racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and linguistic diversity in the teacher workforce for the past several years. There is growing interest in developing culturally relevant and sustaining educators and the final amendments to the Chapter 49 regulations governing educator certification lay the foundation for providing current and future educators with the opportunity to develop these and other competencies, including more knowledge about and sensitivity to the importance of professional ethics and structured literacy.
In an effort to address both the shortage and the lack of diversity in the teacher workforce, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) developed the Aspiring to Educate program (A2E) which was piloted during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years in the Southeastern region of the state. A2E was designed to equip future and current teachers with the knowledge needed to become culturally competent educators.
More information about the initial launch of the A2E program.
The A2E pilot included Temple University as one of the institutions of higher education (IHE) working with the School District of Philadelphia, the primary grantee. Among Temple University's grant responsibilities was to facilitate connections for aspiring educators with all participating IHEs, so that A2E students were aware of the opportunities available to them for pursuing their bachelor's degrees. Temple University facilitated these connections via the creation of the
A2E Working Group within its already-existing IHE Educator Diversity Consortium.
The resulting success of the
A2E Working Group is profound. Members not only developed draft Culturally Relevant and Sustaining Education (CR-SE) competencies, but three additional and complementary toolkits with guidance developed by the field for the field in the areas of recruitment, mentorship, and retention.1 Most significantly, the IHE Educator Diversity Consortium has now become the Pennsylvania Educator Diversity Consortium (PEDC), a grassroots organization of PK-12, higher education, nonprofit, and government leaders striving to increase the number of teachers of color as well as culturally-responsive and sustaining educators in Pennsylvania. The PEDC is now the new home for a collection of rich resources to diversify the commonwealth's educator workforce, including reports, toolkits, and an annual summit,
Research for Action evaluated the pilot phase of A2E in a report released in 2021. The report provides useful background information about the pilot effort, including how those involved responded to the COVID-19 disruptions.
PDE encourages those interested in applying for this grant to review this report to gain insights into program design and to glean the lessons learned and areas for improvement.
In addition to the progress made in the A2E pilot, PDE has been active in exploring ways to strengthen the role played by clinical experience in teacher preparation. While teacher educators have long recognized that pre-service candidates need to be introduced to the world of practice early in their preparation—including some existing teacher preparation programs that incorporate clinical experience as early as the first year of these programs—the field remains remarkably wedded to an outdated model wherein clinical experience is loaded heavily at the end of the pre-service program in a relatively short capstone clinical experience widely known as student teaching. PDE funded the Innovative Teacher Residency grant program in 2018-19 and 2019-20 which made it possible for preparation programs and their LEA partners to experiment with year-long teacher residency programs that were designed to strengthen the role of practice in pre-service preparation.
In 2021, the
Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic at Mathematica released its evaluation (PDF) of both the Innovative Teacher and Principal Residency grants on the first two years of these programs. PDE encourages those interested in the role year-long residencies can play in teacher preparation to review this report to gain insights into program design and to glean the lessons learned and areas for improvement.
While the Innovative Teacher Residency grant program was focused on reforming the capstone (student teaching) clinical experience, PDE also recognizes the need for strengthened early clinical experiences partly as a means of recruiting new talent into the profession. In addition, the Department is interested in strengthened post-graduate clinical experiences which often take the form of induction programs. Induction programs aspire to support novice teachers during their early years partly as a means of retaining talent. Recent regulatory changes to Chapter 49 have expanded what used to be a requirement for a one-year induction period into a two-year induction period.
Thus, there are three distinct stages of clinical experience for aspiring teachers: (1) early clinical experiences starting in the first year of a preparation program; (2) a capstone clinical experience, often referred to as a student teaching or residency experience; and (3) a post-graduate clinical experience which often takes the form of an induction program. These three stages of clinical experience should not exist in isolation from one another. Indeed, research shows that a high level of cohesion across the three stages of clinical experience pays handsome dividends in terms of recruitment, effectiveness, and retention.2
High levels of cohesion presuppose strong partnerships between educator preparation programs (EPPs) and LEAs where aspiring teachers gain their clinical experiences. The significance of these findings prompts interest in doing more within Pennsylvania to build partnerships between EPPs and LEAs as a means of achieving greater cohesion across the three different stages of clinical experience.
PDE is pleased to announce the creation of a new grant program,
Innovative Teacher Prep2Practice, designed to stimulate the creation of highly cohesive and innovative clinical experiences for teachers that make explicit connections across the three stages of clinical experience. The goal is to build upon the lessons learned from the A2E pilot as well as from the Innovative Teacher Residency grant program to better integrate the three stages of clinical experience into the broader teacher preparation program.
The Department sees cohesive and innovative clinical experiences as a vehicle that can address the overarching issues that prompted the creation of the A2E initiative as well as the Innovative Teacher Residency grant program. In particular, applicants for this funding will be asked to respond to questions about how their proposed project will:
Enhance Diversity in the Teacher Workforce
An Educator Preparation Program (EPP)/LEA partnership could take advantage of the toolkits already developed by the PEDC to address critical recruiting, mentoring, and retention needs within LEAs for teachers from underrepresented groups within the profession.
Strengthen Professional Knowledge Regarding CR-SE Competencies
As part of the work of the Temple University A2E Working Group, several members created draft
CR-SE competencies that came out of the southeastern Pennsylvania A2E pilot.
PDE is in the process of implementing the Chapter 49 regulations that became effective on April 23, 2022. The implementation process requires finalizing the competencies defined in these regulations, including CR-SE. The competencies will be finalized by August 2022.
As the CR-SE competencies are required to be incorporated into EPP curricula, induction, and continuing professional development, an EPP/LEA partnership could explore how to integrate them into the EPP curriculum as well as induction.
Build Cohesion Across the Three Stages of Clinical Experience
The Department is particularly interested in supporting innovative designs that reimagine the student teaching, clinical residency, and induction experiences, including models that either greatly clarify or discontinue the need for clinical residencies or fellowships in between the student teaching and induction stages. PDE welcomes models that integrate the residencies and/or fellowships within the induction experience.
An EPP/LEA partnership might develop a model for a year-long capstone clinical experience that includes compensation for the individual preparing to become a teacher.
Strengthen Partnerships between EPPs and LEAs
An EPP/LEA partnership could explore ways to build bridges between the oversight coming from the EPP during clinical experiences and the oversight provided by cooperating teachers and other personnel within the LEA.
Strengthen the Integration of Clinical Experience into the Broader Teacher Preparation Program;
An EPP/LEA partnership could find innovative ways to help aspiring teachers reflect on the implications of research for practice. Similarly, practice should have bearing on the interpretation and conduct of research, and an EPP/LEA partnership could also explore this aspect of the interface between research and practice.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona's recent call to action implores states, LEAs, and EPPs to increase the number of teacher candidates prepared to enter the teaching profession and offers several ideas and examples from other states that are compatible with the goals of this grant program.
Applicants will be invited to submit proposals that meet the goals identified above. PDE will establish a maximum award level of $100,000. Collaborations are encouraged. The EPPs at a higher education institution that apply in partnership with one or more high-need local educational agencies will receive priority.
Proposals will be due October 7, 2022. PDE will review and make awards that will begin in Fall 2022. Funding is a for the 2022-2023 academic year.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) welcomes current approved educator preparation programs to apply for programmatic funding for the 2022-2023 academic year.
Approximately $2 million in funding is available to be shared amongst all grantees. Funding will be awarded to those applicants who demonstrate a willingness and ability to develop a sustainable partnership with one or more LEAs to achieve the identified goals. Grantees will be responsible for disbursement of all funds once selections have been made.
Current PDE-approved educator preparation programs may apply for planning grants up to a maximum of $100,000 in competitive funding for programmatic support.
Priority will be given to educator preparation programs in good standing
3 in partnership with one or more high-need LEAs defined as:
- an LEA with schools that have high rates of racial and ethnic minority students or high rates of low-income students, an LEA that can demonstrate chronic, multiple teacher shortages in special education, STEM subjects, or other state-identified or local shortage areas.
Only items directly related to eligible programs and activities covered in this request for application will be funded. Grant funds paid to institutions of higher education with approved educator preparation programs may not be used for direct salaries, fringe benefits, or operational rates. Indirect cost rates may not be used to claim administrative costs. Administrative costs (not to exceed 5% of the grant award) can be claimed as long as those costs are itemized within the application.
All budgets will be reviewed to evaluate appropriateness and connection to proposed grant activities and goals.
State Teacher Professional Development Fund
Resources will cover funded activities through June 30, 2023.
Application and Award Timeline
To be considered for funding, all applications must be completed and submitted to PDE no later than October 7, 2022. The submission must be made via the eGrants system.
Issuing Office and Contact Information
Contact the Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education at
RA-EDOPHEGrants@pa.gov for technical assistance or to obtain answers to questions related to the grant application. All substantive questions must be submitted by October 7, 2022.
1PDE supported the A2E Working Group via two contractors, along with the technical assistance and support of the Region IV Comprehensive Center, as part of its agreement with PDE.
2Francies, C., S. Glover, C. Jamieson (2021). "Enhancing Teacher Preparation Through Clinical Experience," Policy Brief, Education Commission of the States; Whipp, J. L. and L. Geronime (2017). "Experiences that Predict Early Career Teacher Commitment to and Retention in High-Poverty Urban Schools," Urban Education 52,7: 799-828; Goha, R., M.E. Hyler, and L. Darling-Hammond (2016). The Teacher Residency: An Innovatie Model for Preparing Teachers," Learning Policy Institute; Ronfeldt, M., N. Schwartz, and B. Jacob (2014). "Does Pre-Service Preparation Matter? Examining and Old Question in New Ways," Teachers College Record 116,10: 1-46.
3A preparation program that is "in good standing" is a program that has no program quality issues documented by the PA Department of Education that would prevent the program from fully meeting the standards of a Major Review.