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(INDIANAPOLIS) – As Indiana studies ways to pay teachers more, three school districts are getting a multimillion-dollar head start.

Marion County’s Perry Township Schools and the Goshen and Brown County Schools have received a five-year, $47 million federal grant, through their partnership with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching. The money will let them expand a program where veteran teachers can earn more by mentoring newer teachers.

Perry Township will receive nearly half the grant, about$4.4 million a year. Superintendent Patrick Mapes says the money should boost the salaries of mentor and master teachers by $2,000 or more. 

NIET has been working with the three districts and five others in Indiana over the last decade. CEO Candice McQueen says the institute emphasizes regular staff training during the school day, personalized to the needs of individual teachers and students, with a goal of rethinking how lessons are taught to make them more effective.

Goshen Superintendent Diane Woodworth says the district rose from a D on the state’s accountability grades to a B, with one elementary school leaping all the way from a D to an A in four years. Mapes says Perry Township’s graduation and ISTEP passing rates have been rising even as statewide averages have fallen over the last few years.

This year’s legislature approved a statewide “career ladder’ grant fund similar to the NIET-funded program, setting aside $3.5 million over three years for schools who want to offer bonuses to mentor teachers. The program links the mentoring programs to either NIET’s Teacher Advancement Program or another program with the same goal of making teaching methods more effective.

(Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)