CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District says they have been awarded an Education Innovation & Research grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
For the first time, the U.S. Department of Education says they sought projects centered on teacher choice in professional learning.
CCSD says it is five-year grant worth $12 million and its purpose is to “generate and validate solutions to persistent educational challenges.”
The grants encourage entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated ideas which the district says are intended to improve student achievement and rigorously evaluate these innovations.
CCSD says their grant project will focus on teacher choice in cultural competency training.
Teachers will receive an allowance to choose their own professional learning and CCSD says after attending training, teachers will provide feedback. The district says they want to collectively build a resource bank of cultural competency training.
This professional development will serve as an extension of the Board of Trustees’ plans to train all CCSD employees in Cultural Competency, the district says.
“Empowering our educators with authentic professional learning of their choosing supports our commitment to developing our teachers while developing our understanding across cultural differences, inclusive practices, and conversations that will remove barriers faced by our students,” CCSD Cultural Competency Team member Dr. Abby Woods said.
The project will involve research to see if it the training makes a difference in the classroom, Woods said.
CCSD says the goal is to create a culturally competent learning environment that adapts to and values diversity and institutionalizes cultural knowledge. District leaders say project outcomes include improved school climate, improved student engagement, and improved student achievement.
“This is an incredible opportunity for Charleston County,” CCSD Chief Financial and Administrative Officer Don Kennedy said. “The innovative aspect of this project allows CCSD to explore our work on improving the cultural competency of our workforce and our students. The fact that the project strategies will be teacher-led ensures the greatest possible outcomes for preparing our students to live effectively in a multicultural world.”
CCSD says the initial schools chosen to participate in the project are from District 3 and District 23.
“This grant will allow teachers to have access to the latest methods, strategies, and pedagogy to help us deliver dynamic content to support diverse learners within our classrooms,” CCSD Teacher of the Year and member of the grant team Lakevia Mills said.