By Stephen Sawchuk on September 27, 2012 5:06 PM
The U.S. Department of Education today unveiled its fourth batch of Teacher Incentive Fund grants, a program that supports differentiated compensation systems.
TIF has had more makeovers than Madonna since its 2006 inception, so if you haven't paying attention, there are a few tweaks to this round worth noting.
First, the program has expanded to include career ladders, whereby teachers get additional professional responsibilities, not just higher pay, as part of the programs. Second, grantees had to secure more support from teachers' unions and others up front, rather than during a planning year. (This isn't exactly easy to do; read more about that from colleague Jackie Zubrzycki's recent story). And finally, the competition paid special attention to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM fields.
Overall, the Obama administration has attempted to move the program from one focused mostly on pay to a broader strategy for improving teaching that puts evaluation systems at its core. (It echoes the approaches taken in the Race to the Top program and the the ESEA Flexibility waivers.)
A few of the new winners are worth noting.
• New Haven Public Schools will use its grant to build on its teacher evaluation system. It will explore ways of creating career ladders for top-performing teachers. When I reported on New Haven's new system last year, a few folks in the Connecticut district told me they hadn't quite worked out what extra opportunities they'd create for teachers with the best scores. Perhaps this will be one way of finding answers.
You can read the full list of winners here.