BROADALBIN - For the fourth time within the past calendar year, the state Education Department has awarded a six-figure grant to the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District, according to a news recent.
The latest award - a Strengthening Teacher and Leader Effectiveness 2 grant - totals $220,125 over two years. The grant will be used to develop and implement a professional learning community the district is calling A-PLUSS: Academy of Peer Learning, United for Student Success.
"We have a lot of talented and knowledgeable teachers and administrators at Broadalbin-Perth," Superintendent of Schools Stephen Tomlinson said. "The A-PLUSS program will allow us to tap into our existing human resources in a structured way that will help improve classroom instruction and school leadership district-wide."
According to the release, the A-PLUSS program will revolve around turnkey training: teachers and administrators sharing their knowledge and expertise with their colleagues.
Officials said the participating faculty will hone their craft in various aspects of effective teacher and school leadership and then serve as resident experts in the district, offering small group and one-on-one training.
"We'll essentially be offering an instructional 'help desk' that teachers in particular can access at any time," Tomlinson said. "The program will also encourage a lot of collaboration, all of which should result in better learning opportunities for our students."
District communications specialist Michele Kelley said the teachers are required to do professional development to maintain and improve their skills, and with the new Annual?Professional?Performance Review requirements the teachers are evaluated on a set of standards.
The APPR, an evaluation required by the state, results in each teacher receiving an effectiveness rating. A portion of the rating is connected to student performance.
Kelley said with these funds, the district will take the standards the teachers are evaluated by and train the more experienced teachers to become "experts" in the different aspects of the evaluations to become resources for other faculty members across the district.
"The overall goal is to raise the level of quality teaching in the district," Kelley said.
Teachers and building-level administrators who meet the minimum qualifications will be invited to apply for the positions on a new career ladder?- a requirement of the grant program - which defines the roles and responsibilities of faculty involved in the A-PLUSS program, the release said.
"Part of the requirement of the grant was to establish a career ladder," Kelley said. "In the past, if a teacher wanted to advance his or her career the only option they really had was to go become an administrator, which would take them out of the classroom. By establishing a career ladder, we can give teachers opportunities for advancement and keep them in the classroom."
Kelley said there are three levels on the ladder with the lowest being for newer teachers that want to improve their skills, the second level is primarily turnkey teachers and the third level is made of teachers and administrators who would oversee the operation of the program and help choose professional development events.
The news release said a portion of the grant funding will be used to provide annual stipends to those who fill career ladder positions. Additional grant funds will be used to pay for outside professional development and substitute teachers.
During the 2012-13 school year, Broadalbin-Perth won three competitive grants from NYSED totaling about $1.14 million.