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The U.S. Department of Education has awarded HISD $7.7 million to attract, reward, and retain strong math and science teachers.
The Houston Independent School District is among just 35 school systems nationally that received the grants, which were announced Thursday. HISD’s grant is specifically for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers. More than 120 school districts applied for the grants.
“Nothing we can do has more impact on our goal of providing every child with an academically rigorous education than placing effective teachers in every classroom,” said Superintendent Terry Grier. “These teachers deserve much more than we are able to pay them, and this grant will help us compete to keep the best talent in Houston ISD classrooms.”
All applicants submitted proposals that provide opportunities for teacher leadership and advancement, put in place district-wide evaluations based on multiple measures that include student growth, and improve decision-making through better evaluations, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
“Whether urban or rural, traditional or charter, successful schools are not possible without great teaching and leadership,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Our best teachers and principals are invaluable leaders in changing life outcomes for students. They are desperately needed in our struggling schools, and they deserve to be recognized, rewarded, and given the opportunity to have a greater influence on their colleagues, students, and in their communities.”
In addition to offering teachers financial incentives, HISD will also use the grant to give teachers the instructional materials they need to conduct authentic problem-based learning STEM projects, develop and deliver specialized training for teachers through partners such as Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine, and to hire additional math and science coaches to support teachers at participating schools.
The grant will benefit 25 HISD schools, mostly elementary schools, with large populations of students from low-income families. The schools were also chosen because their students have struggled to meet state minimum academic standards in science and math.