Education grant works to put new teachers in Indiana schools

Purdue University’s College of Education and Indianapolis Public Schools are teaming up on a new project to expand the access the city’s students have to STEM education.
The project, called the Indy STEM Teacher Residency, aims to bring as many as 60 new teachers into the fold and improve the opportunities for students to learn science, technology, engineering and math.
“It is vitally important that all children have access to exemplary STEM education, period,” said Lynn Bryan, project head and director of CATALYST at Purdue. “Yet, research continues to document the growing inequality of K-12 students’ access to high-quality science and mathematics education.”
Through the project, a “resident teacher” will teach full-time alongside an experienced teacher-mentor. The resident teacher will complete Master’s degree coursework and, through day-to-day mentoring, learn and hone the knowledge and skills needed to make an immediate impact in the STEM classroom.
The project recently received a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, one of three recent federal funding boosts for projects through the college. Grants for $2.2 million and $1 million also were awarded to Purdue’s College of Education this week.
CATALYST is joined by Indianapolis Public Schools – specifically Arsenal Technical and, George Washington high schools and Henry W. Longfellow Middle School – and Purdue’s College of Science in the work.
“IPS is thrilled to partner with Purdue to find and train future STEM teachers who will spend an extended amount of time in our classrooms, working with students in a residency-based model to fine-tune their skills in STEM instruction,” IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson said. “We believe this partnership will lead to a strong talent pipeline for school leaders and greatly enhance K-12 STEM programming, including our career pathways, offered to students and families across the district.”
CATALYST is an interdisciplinary research-oriented unit in the College of Education focused on building and supporting a community of educational professionals who are dedicated to advancing K-12 STEM teaching and learning.
Bryan said it is designed to prepare the next generation of top-tier STEM teachers. Through the project, as many as 80 percent of resident teachers will remain in Indianapolis Public Schools for at least three years with intended teacher retention to remain higher than non-resident teachers.
In a separate project, $2.2 million from the U.S. Department of Education will go toward researching how to close the gaps between opportunity and excellence in gifted education for traditionally underserved populations.
The work is led by Nielsen Pereira, assistant professor in educational psychology and research methodology, and will focus on students from ethnically diverse backgrounds and from low-income backgrounds, among others.
The five-year project will provide talent development opportunities for students with gifts and talents in STEM areas.
In the third project, a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will fund doctoral research into special education as part of a consortium between Purdue, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Oregon.
Five Purdue students will focus on autism, multitiered systems of support and culturally responsive instruction, said Mandy Rispoli, co-director of the Purdue Autism Research Center.