The U.S. Department of Education today unveiled its fourth batch of Teacher Incentive Fund grants, a program that supports differentiated compensation systems.
TIF has had more makeovers than Madonna since its 2006 inception, so if you haven't paying attention, there are a few tweaks to this round worth noting.
First, the program has expanded to include career ladders, whereby teachers get additional professional responsibilities, not just higher pay, as part of the programs. Second, grantees had to secure more support from teachers' unions and others up front, rather than during a planning year. (This isn't exactly easy to do; read more about that from colleague Jackie Zubrzycki's recent story ). And finally, the competition paid special attention to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM fields.
Overall, the Obama administration has attempted to move the program from one focused mostly on pay to a broader strategy for improving teaching that puts evaluation systems at its core. (It echoes the approaches taken in the Race to the Top program and the the ESEA Flexibility waivers.)