The U.S. Department of Education announced today the final application period for the $285 million Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) 2012 competition. This round of the competition includes a new focus on supporting district-wide evaluation systems that reward success, offer greater professional opportunities, and drive decision-making on recruitment, development, and retention of effective teachers and principals.
The next round of funding will also invite applications for a separate competition that centers on improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) instruction.
"This year's TIF competition will be a catalyst for local leaders and educators ready to pursue a new and improved vision for school leadership and teaching," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "TIF 2012 will reward districts that go beyond simple merit-pay programs to create systems of professional support and career ladders that help keep talent in schools and classrooms with the greatest need."
Districts may apply for a share of funds either individually or in partnership with one or more districts. States and non-profits are also invited to apply in conjunction with one or more districts.
Through the 2012 competition, applicants are encouraged to create systematic plans for improving human capital in high-need schools through improved compensation systems that offer differentiated pay based on educator effectiveness, additional roles and responsibilities, and service in struggling schools. Plans would center on strong, district-wide evaluations that influence classroom practices, offer greater professional opportunities, and inform decisions on staffing, compensation, and tenure.
Five-year grants will be awarded to applicants that demonstrate readiness to transition to a new evaluation system, involvement of principals and teachers in developing a plan, and effective methods for placing and keeping talent in hard-to-staff schools. Funds would support performance-based compensation and related professional development as well as the creation or improvement of systems and tools that benefit the entire district.
Evaluation systems will incorporate performance tiers and account for multiple measures, including student growth at the classroom level. Improved evaluations must be in place in at least a sample of schools by the beginning of year two and must be phased in at remaining schools district-wide no later than year three.
In addition, districts are invited to apply separately for funds to support plans for recruiting, preparing, and retaining highly effective STEM educators. Applicants will propose plans to develop a master corps of STEM teachers through various efforts such as providing additional compensation based on effectiveness, creating career-ladder positions, and placing exceptional teachers in schools with the greatest need.
Like the 2010 competition, TIF 2012 gives preference to new applicants. Two new competitive preferences have been added to support progressive plans to put in place salary structures that incorporate teacher and principal performance as well as applications serving rural districts.
The 2012 application is available at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/teacherincentive/applicant.html. The Department anticipates awarding around 30 grants ranging from $500 thousand to $12 million, depending on the number of staff served and content outlined in the plan. Awards will provide first-year funding. Additional dollars for years 2 through 5 are dependent on congressional action. Applications are due July 27, 2012 and winners will be announced in September.