18:00 PM

New federal grant will link Ohio State, Columbus Schools and community partners to improve teaching

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State University has received a $12.9 million federal grant that will fund a new program to prepare teachers to be successful in high-need areas for the Columbus City Schools.

Over the course of the five-year grant, Ohio State's College of Education and Human Ecology will graduate 600 bachelor-degree teachers, focusing on those specializing in math, science and foreign languages.

The college will also create a Teaching Residents program that will place 120 graduate-level teachers with the Columbus City Schools, and match them with experienced mentors who teach in the district. This part of the program will also focus in the areas of critical need for the district, including math, science and foreign languages.

The new program is called "Project ASPIRE: Apprenticeships Supported by Partnerships for Innovation and Reform in Education."

In addition to partnering with the Columbus schools, the grant will allow the college to work collaboratively with the university's College of Arts and Sciences, the Ohio Board of Regents, the Ohio Department of Education, Battelle for Kids and Nationwide Insurance on various programs to enhance the quality of teachers in Columbus and beyond.

"We are proud, as the flagship center for education research in Ohio, to engage with these critical partners in creating a new model of teacher preparation," said Cheryl Achterberg, dean of the College of Education and Human Ecology.

"Our experts will apply strategies they have perfected through years of research in teacher preparation. Our goal is to meet the learning needs of all children in the 21st century."

One of the benefits of Project ASPIRE is that it aligns with Governor Strickland's focus on education reform, said Sandra Stroot, senior associate dean in the College of Education and Human Ecology.

"We now have resources to help support and guide that agenda, and collectively improve education in Ohio," Stroot said.

Stroot will co-lead the new program with Rebecca Kantor-Martin, professor and director of the School of Teaching and Learning.

In order to meet the goals of the program, the college is developing "multiple pathways" for students to receive a degree and a teacher's license, Kantor-Martin said. That may include offering some classes on the weekend and online, in order to accommodate people who want to make a career change into teaching.

"We want to be more flexible in how we offer courses, to be flexible for the needs of students while improving the quality of teachers," Kantor-Martin said.

An important key to Project ASPIRE is the partnership with Columbus schools. Together, the college and the schools identified the greatest needs of the district and the best ways to work together to meet those needs.

"We are very pleased to be partnering with the College of Education and Human Ecology at The Ohio State University to be able to offer district teachers professional development opportunities to enhance their instructional skills in math, science and foreign languages," said Gene T. Harris, Superintendent and CEO, Columbus City Schools.

"Our students require 21st Century skills to be competitive nationally and in the global marketplace."

Stroot said that the Teaching Residents program will allow some of the college's best students to work with high-quality mentors in the Columbus schools.

"We are working collaboratively with the district and the teachers' union to develop and implement the residency program, and Columbus schools have agreed to hire the teachers who successfully complete the program," she said.

Project ASPIRE will also partner with Ohio State's College of Arts and Sciences to ensure that teachers have high levels of content knowledge in the areas they will be teaching.

Other key partners will include Battelle for Kids and Nationwide Insurance. These partners will work with the college in the schools, and will also help leaders of the program understand the needs of the business community and use that knowledge to help teachers prepare their students to meet these needs.

Project ASPIRE was funded through the U.S. Department of Education's Teacher Quality Partnership grants. The department recently funded 28 colleges and universities throughout the country.