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March 28, 2005


SPRINGFIELD - Grants totaling $3.6 million to upgrade teachers' content knowledge and improve teaching skills will be considered by the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) at its regular meeting April 5 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield.

Board members will vote on grants for 22 partnerships for teacher professional development activities under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. The Board received requests for 32 projects totaling $8 million for fiscal 2005. This is the second year of the federally funded program, which financed 26 partnerships with a grant of $5.3 million in 2004.

The grant projects are designed to improve teachers' knowledge of the subjects they teach as well as enable administrators to strengthen their ability in such areas as curriculum leadership, assessing student learning, and developing strategies for closing performance gaps in core academic areas.

Among the projects proposed to the Board are:

  • The Chicago Teachers Project, a partnership of the University of Chicago, the Polk Brothers Foundation, and the Chicago Public Schools, will assist 150 teachers to fulfill NCLB and state requirements for certification in mathematics.

  • The Content & Implementation project, a collaboration of Loyola University and the Chicago Public Schools, aims to improve mathematics instruction in Chicago middle schools. Combining mathematics content courses, technology workshops, and professional development activities, teachers will not only become more highly skilled in the classroom but also become teacher-leaders capable of spreading enhanced pedagogical techniques throughout their schools.

  • The Chicago Bilingual Summer Math Laboratory, sponsored by Columbia College Chicago, will help teachers link mathematics instruction to the linguistic needs of students enrolled in bilingual or English-as-a-new-language program. The project integrates math instruction with the study of language and the arts to promote academic success among these students. Both students and teachers will be recruited from high-need schools.

  • The Science Teachers Excellence Partnership (STEP II), a partnership of Illinois State University, Rend Lake College, and the East St. Louis school district, will offer content and pedagogical expertise in math and science for high need schools. The program will focus on 4th-9th grade teachers. "Data retreats" will help teachers learn to read and interpret state test results. A summer camp for students and a summer conference for teachers will include several hands-on activities in biology, chemistry, forensics, physics, engineering, and mathematics.

During fiscal 2004, the Board approved $5.3 million in teacher quality grants to 26 eligible partnerships serving more than 950 K 12 schools; 3,700 teachers; 149,000 students; and providing nearly 2,300 hours of intensive high-quality professional development activities.

At its meeting on April 5, the Board also will act on $2.1 million in cooperative work-study grants for FY05.

Douglas Whitley, president of the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, will address Board members on the vital link between education and workforce development.

Visitors to the Board meeting should be mindful of security precautions in place at the new Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. Picture ID's will be required of all who seek to attend the meeting.


Don Sevener



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