WSU Awarded Grant for Statewide Teacher Preparation Reform

TACOMA, Wash. — Schoolchildren across Washington, especially “high needs” students
who are at the greatest risk of failure, will benefit from a five-year, $9.6 million grant from the U.S.
Department of Education.
The grant, to the Washington State University College of Education, is one of 25 offered
nationally and the only one awarded in Washington, California or Oregon.
According to WSU Dean of Education Judy Mitchell, WSU students in teacher preparation
will be spending much more time at “high needs” schools in districts from Tacoma to Colville
because of the focus and resources of the grant.
The grant will strengthen ongoing partnerships with Grays Harbor College at Aberdeen and
the Northwest Indian College near Bellingham, as well as collaboration with the WSU colleges
that provide content knowledge to future teachers. Innovative uses of high-tech communication
systems will glue the statewide elements of the project together.
The award was announced Monday morning (Oct. 11) at Tacoma’s Henry Foss High School,
prior to a first meeting of the initiative’s partners, including the Tacoma School District.
The teacher preparation programs developed at WSU will become a model, disseminated to
educators across Washington and the nation through summer forums, technical assistance and
on-going electronic communication.
Mitchell explained that the basic goal of the grant-funded program is to help the education
college and its partner schools prepare teachers who are better able to teach students with
diverse backgrounds and needs, and then to share their discoveries with educators in the region
and the nation.
“We now have the resources to make the systemic changes in our program to fully align
with Washington’s education reform model,” Mitchell said. “Equally exciting is this opportunity
to deepen our involvement in partnerships with school districts and community colleges to help
create a truly seamless K-20 system statewide.”
The federal grant, known as CO-TEACH (Collaboration for Teacher Education Accountable
to Children with High Needs), was assembled and will be coordinated by five education faculty
members at the Pullman campus. They include assistant professors Tariq Akmal and Dawn
Shinew; professors Merrill Oaks and Jerry Maring; and associate professors Ed Helmstetter and
Michael Pavel.
Over the five years of the grant, the $9.6 million in federal funds will be matched with $3.9
million from the partnering schools and colleges.
According to Ed Crowe, program director with the U.S. Department of Education, WSU was
chosen from among 220 applicants nationwide. Grant recipients were selected on the basis of
three criteria: the significance of the proposal, the impact upon teacher education in that region,
and the likelihood that the program would be completed successfully.
“This grant program is the first investment of federal dollars in teacher education in 30
years,” Crowe added. “This is a very tangible symbol of a growing national concern about the
quality of education.”
Other WSU education faculty members recently received an additional $5.1 million in grant
funding for programs in educational reform. WSU Tri-Cities was awarded a five-year $3.2 million
federal grant to encourage more students to prepare for higher education. WSU Vancouver
received four separate grants totaling $1.9 million for enhancing science education, increasing
the number of bilingual educators and other purposes.