ISU's 'Thinking Through the Text' earns highest ICHE funding

March 22 2007

Indiana State University has been awarded a $199,728 Improving Teacher Quality Partnership Grant from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (ICHE) for its initiative designed to improve students’ higher level reading comprehension skills and to provide teachers with strategies focused on content area reading skills.

ISU’s project, entitled “Thinking through the Text,” is a partnership involving Indiana State’s College of Education, its College of Arts and Sciences, the Indianapolis Public Schools and the Vigo County School Corporation.

Indiana State’s proposal was one of several considered as part of the ICHE’s 2006 Improving Teacher Quality Partnership Program Competition, and it was the highest gift awarded in the competition.

“I am very impressed with this particular grant,” said Jack Maynard, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Indiana State. “It brings together our College of Arts and Sciences and our College of Education, which will work in partnership with our school corporations to address a significant problem in the Vigo and Indianapolis schools. I am confident that this initiative has the potential to have a significant impact on improving the teaching of content literacy.”

Under the auspices of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), the ICHE’s competitive partnership program brings Indiana's colleges and universities together with high-need school districts to support the professional development needs of teachers, paraprofessionals and principals in core academic subjects. Through the program, grants are funded to support teacher quality as a major factor in improving student achievement.

ISU elementary, early and special education faculty Lisa Blanco-Cutter, Diana Quatroche and Kathryn Bauserman are principle investigators for the grant, which focuses on two primary areas: professional development and student reading comprehension skills in content-area reading.

“Since educator quality is the one most important influence upon student achievement, high quality professional development is essential to increase educators’ knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs so that they may enable all students to learn at higher levels”, according to Quatroche, chairperson and associate professor of elementary, early and special education at Indiana State. She said professional development activities that are often most effective in improving educator practice are “results-oriented, data driven, constructivist in nature and job embedded.”

ISU’s “Thinking through the Text” grant will meet these expectations through a three-pronged approach involving summer seminars, induction seminars and online modules.

“The program will employ a train-the-trainer approach,” Quatroche added. “This promotes a systematic, sustainable professional development infrastructure which will continue beyond the scope of the project.”

The first year of “Thinking through the Text” implementation will involve a broad sampling of middle and high school educators from across participating school districts, with priority given to those from high-needs schools. These classroom teachers will be drawn from all subject areas of student study. During the program’s second year, the nets will be cast out a bit farther to include elementary and high school educators.

“This grant exemplifies our continued commitment to outreach with a focus on teacher professional development,” said Brad Balch, dean of ISU’s College of Education. “The train-the-trainer framework is responsive to our school partners' needs, focusing on key school improvement areas in middle and high schools.

“Content literacy spans across several disciplines, and our partnership efforts are directly aligned with NCLB and Indiana's Core 40,” he added. “We are most pleased to receive this grant and look forward to implementation.”

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CONTACTS: Lisa Blanco-Cutter, assistant professor of elementary, early and special education, (812) 237-2587 or lcutter@isugw.indstate.edu; Diana Quatroche, chairperson and associate professor of elementary, early and special education, (812) 237-2821 or dquatroche@isugw.indstate.edu; Kathy Bauserman, assistant professor of elementary, early and special education, (812) 237-2853 or eekathry@isugw.indstate.edu.

WRITER: Maria Greninger, associate director, Communications & Marketing, Indiana State University, (812) 237-4357 or 237-7972 (Tuesdays) or mgreninger@indstate.edu

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Story Highlights

Indiana State University has been awarded a $199,728 Improving Teacher Quality Partnership Grant from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (ICHE) for its initiative designed to improve students' higher level reading comprehension skills and to provide teachers with strategies focused on content area reading skills.

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