URI School of Education awarded $7.5 million grant to help prepare states next generation of teachers

KINGSTON, R.I. — November 4, 2004 — The University of Rhode Island College of Human Science and Services’ School of Education has started the new school year with something to really crow about. The School has been awarded a $7.55 million grant from the U. S. Department of Education’s competitive “Teacher Quality Enhancement” program to reform teacher education and strengthen the preparation of the next generation of Rhode Island teachers.

The five-year grant is the largest ever received by the URI School of Education and is targeted to state-wide reform through a partnership with all colleges and agencies involved in the education and certification of teachers in Rhode Island. David Byrd, director of the School of Education, and Education Professor Peter Adamy are co-principal investigators for the grant.

The new grant will fund the Rhode Island Teacher Education Renewal (RITER) project that will form a strong partnership of all eight approved teacher preparation programs in Rhode Island and will support work with teachers in three high-need urban school districts, Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Newport. The arts and science faculties at each of these institutions and senior staff from the commissioner’s office for both the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Office of Higher Education are also primary partners in the project.

In addition to the University, the seven other teacher education programs are Brown University, Johnson and Wales University, Providence College, Rhode Island College, Rhode Island School of Design, Roger Williams University, and Salve Regina University.

“This award recognizes the value of strategies for reform that are based on both research and practice. We can no longer advance an agenda of improvement by starting with old assumptions about what works and what doesn’t. This is a statewide partnership that will help us accomplish the goal of improved teaching and learning for our future teachers and the students they will teach,” said URI President Robert L. Carothers. “As the children in these three Rhode Island school systems directly benefit from this process, we believe that what we learn in the process will improve education for children across the state and the nation.”

“Through this partnership among eight institutions of higher education, Rhode Island will prepare a new generation of teachers to work with the diverse student population in our state,” said Peter McWalters, Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education.

About the College of Human Science and Services’ role in the new effort, Dean Wm. Lynn McKinney said the grant highlights the college’s core values: collaboration and partnerships. “We are committed to increasing the educational achievement of Rhode Islanders and look forward to working with our partner agencies and institutions to strengthen education programs at all educational levels,” he said.

According to Byrd, the five objectives of the new project are to: increase teachers’ knowledge of their specific subject matter; increase teachers’ ability to integrate technology into their instruction; increase knowledge of effective teaching strategies for use with diverse student communities; provide induction and mentoring for new teachers; and for non-traditional certification in high-need areas.

“This project will address the need to enhance the content preparation of teachers statewide, and specifically advance content knowledge in areas of math, science and English as a second language. These areas have been identified for support. The grant provides an opportunity for professional development and enrichment with current teachers as well as mentoring new and some non-traditional teachers,” explained Byrd.

“As the population in the state and nation continues to become more diverse, this grant will also support efforts for diversity training to help teachers better understand and link to the community in which they teach,” he added.

To accomplish these goals, the project will effect changes statewide in the curriculum, assessment, and clinical experience of future teachers. Similar changes will be put to work in the professional development and mentoring of district-based teacher induction programs, and in student learning in PK-12 schools. On a state-wide level this program will also support the development of a non-traditional route to teacher certification.

Once these program changes are recommended, tested and approved, they will become a part of the new statewide curriculum that will include standards-based coursework. Byrd said that the Rhode Island Department of Education is an integral part of the partnership and the process.

“We are very appreciative of the time, energy, and effort that the Department of Education and all of the RITER project partners have committed to this enormous effort. We are privileged to be working so closely with our peers in pursuit of this common goal to improve the education of students throughout the state,” said Byrd.

The federal Teacher Quality Enhancement Grants provide funds to partnerships among teacher preparation institutions, schools of arts and sciences, and local school districts in high-need areas. The partners work to strengthen teacher education through reforms that will hold teacher education programs accountable and ensure that teachers are well-prepared for the realities of the classroom.

The University offers undergraduate teacher education programs leading to bachelor’s degrees in early childhood, elementary, physical, music and secondary education. Currently about 500 undergraduate students are enrolled in the School of Education at URI and hundreds of others in the graduate and certificate programs offered by the University. URI’s programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Rhode Island Department of Education.

About the RITER project Principal Investigators

Peter Adamy is an assistant professor of education at the University of Rhode Island’s School of Education. As a member of the elementary teacher education program, his teaching and supervision efforts focus on assessment, evaluation, classroom management, and the student teaching practicum. His research and publications have been focused in the areas of improving teacher education through the integration of technology, the use of technology to enhance content area instruction and learning, and the use of technology in teaching and assessment, with a specific focus on teacher education. From 1999 to 2003 he served as the project director of URI’s federal “Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to us Technology” grant – a $1,000,000 project that coordinated a partnership between the School of Education and the College of Arts and Sciences to train faculty across programs to integrate technology into methods courses and content area courses taken by URI teacher candidates. Since 2002, he has been the director of an AACTE/Microsoft Innovative Teachers grant, in which URI has partnered with a local school district to do technology rich, content area training for K-12 classroom teachers who are working with URI student teachers.

David Byrd is a professor of education and director of the University of Rhode Island’s School of Education. Over the last 25 years Byrd has published over 20 articles in professional journals, and authored or edited eight books. He is the co-author of Effective Methods of Teaching with Allyn & Bacon (2003) and has co-authored a chapter, “Assessing the Impact of Standards: Overview and Framework” in Research on Meeting and Using Standards in the Preparation of Teacher published by Kendall/Hunt. He was co-editor of the Teacher Education Yearbook series published by Corwin/Sage Press (1996-2000) and has also co-authored the chapter on “Supervision in Teacher Education” for the Handbook for Research on Supervision (1999) and a chapter “Field and Laboratory Experiences” for the second edition of the Handbook of Research on Teacher Education (1996). Both of these books are Macmillan publications. During the last 25 years he has presented over 40 papers at national conferences and made numerous local and regional presentations. Byrd sits on the editorial board of the Association of Teacher Educators’ Yearbook and is a member of the Professional Journal Committee for Action in Teacher Education, and Chair of the Research Committee for the Association of Teacher Educators.