The Metropolitan School District of Perry Township is the recipient of a five-year, $22 million grant from the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), it was announced Tuesday.
The amount that Perry Twp. Schools receives is part of a $47 million grant also shared by Brown County Schools and Goshen Community Schools.
The grant allows the three school districts to expand and sustain the support of teachers and improve students’ academic success through the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP).
“Our teachers (Perry Twp.) are doing amazing things to support our students,” Perry Twp. Schools Supt. Patrick Mapes said. “This unique opportunity to invest in teachers will allow us to show they are appreciated. When teachers see that we value them and that we are willing to invest in them, there is a greater chance we can retain and recruit high-quality candidates.”
The boisterous announcement was made Tuesday morning at Jeremiah Gray Elementary School in front of several state dignitaries and Perry Township educators and patrons. The official grant is through the federal Teacher and School Leader (TSL) Incentive Program.
“We focus on building teachers’ understanding of what high-quality instruction should look like and we provide structures of support that allows teachers to grow,” NIET CEO Dr. Candice McQueen said. “They make sure that teachers grow by becoming teachers to their peers. We continue to do this because the most important element to student success is the teacher in front of them.”
She praised the three school districts for their ongoing relationship with NIET that includes 10 years with Perry Twp. Schools and as one of the top school districts in the state.
“Perry schools are a testament to what can happen when there’s an investment year after year that is sustained around teacher leadership,” McQueen said. “It assures that they are invested in professional learning for teachers.”
The grant supports the TAP system for teacher and student advancement throughout the combined district’s 32 schools (K-12) that serves 25,000 students, 1,500 teachers and 80 school leaders.
TAP has been in effect for several years, but the backing from NIET allows teachers and students to grow, but also targets each teacher’s career path, professional growth, accountability and compensation through bonuses and stipends.
“Effective teachers are crucial to student performance and academic success,” Mapes stated. “We are thankful for this grant which will give us the opportunity to recruit, retain, and reward highly effective teachers who are responsible for driving positive student outcomes.”
Currently, Perry Township implements the NIET blueprint for TAP across the district and uses NIET’s instructional plan for more than 6,700 students. The TSL grant will help Perry Township, recipient of NIET’s 2018 District Award of Excellence for Educator Effectiveness, give stipends for the first time to the teachers who effectively help facilitate the TAP framework.
Perry Township Schools is the state’s second fastest-growing district.
The growth has been spurred by diversity, including refugees from Burma. At 31 percent, the school district has the highest percentage of English Language Learners (ELL) for a district of its size.
Mapes also pointed out that a recent assessment showed that reading was the largest area in grown with 39 percent of ELL readers scoring at the highest proficiency level. As a district, reading proficiency is an average of 4.0 – up from 3.7.
Laura Hammack, a former Beech Grove City Schools administrator, represented Brown County Schools at the announcement.