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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2000

Illinois Awarded $1.1 Million Grant to Improve Teacher Quality

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced that Illinois will receive $1,105,879 for the first year of the three-year grant to assist efforts to improve teaching quality and education programs, particularly at the middle school level.

The program focuses on the development of a middle-grade teaching certificate and new standards for teacher preparation; improving the knowledge and skills of current teachers; and increasing the number of middle-grade teachers through statewide recruiting strategies.

"Every child deserves a caring qualified teacher," Ryan said. "This grant will allow us to improve our teacher education programs, so that our children will be better prepared for the future."

Another major focus of the program is the recruitment of new candidates into the teaching profession from diverse educational backgrounds and geographical locations, particularly those from high-poverty urban and rural areas. Dr. Hazel Loucks, Deputy Governor of Education and Workforce Development for the Governor's Office, noted that many states are experiencing teacher shortages in all areas. "Illinois is experiencing shortages in a few areas, but we are very much in need of a more diverse teaching force," she said.

Over three years, the state and federal effort calls for an $8.1 million project with $4.2 million in federal dollars. The proposal was the collaborative effort of the Board of Higher Education, the Illinois State Board of Education, and the Illinois Community College Board.

"The research proves that student success is tied directly to teacher quality," said State Superintendent of Education Glenn W. McGee. "Ensuring that all students have high-quality teachers is a top priority. With this grant we can raise teacher quality at the middle school level and develop a model program that will help us recruit, retain and support quality teachers at all levels," he said.

Keith Sanders, Executive Director of the Board of Higher Education voiced appreciation for the cooperative effort of the three state agencies. "This is a ground-breaking step for three agencies to harness their resources and influence to form an effective partnership for advocacy. The grant application by this coalition clearly identified the needs of middle school teachers and students and then effectively presented a strategy to meet those needs through systemic change. The federal grant, and state matching funds, will take us far over the next three years in recruiting and training a highly qualified cadre of middle school teachers."

Joe Cipfl, President/CEO of the Illinois Community College Board expressed his enthusiasm for the grant. "I am very excited about the receipt of the teacher quality enhancement grant. Community colleges play a vital role in the preparation of teachers in Illinois. The grant will enhance these efforts by expanding collaborations between baccalaureate degree granting institutions, community colleges, and P-12 public schools.

Through the grant, new recruitment and enrollment of teacher preparation candidates at the community college level will increase the number of available candidates. "The new baccalaureate completion programs in teacher preparation delivered through community colleges will allow those students to remain close to home, while preparing to teach in their local communities" Cipfl added.



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