TDOE Awards UTK, Deans for Impact Innovation Grants to Develop Focused Coursework for Future Tennessee Educators

Wednesday, October 06, 2021 | 11:59am


Investment to Support Teacher Preparation and Development 


Nashville, TN - Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced $642,000 in grant funding has been awarded to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Deans for Impact to support the development of literacy- and trauma informed- coursework for use by all Educator Preparation Providers (EPPs) in the state, in compliance with new law and State Board of Education rule, to help teacher candidates be prepared to meet the needs of Tennessee students.

During the state’s special legislative session in January, the Tennessee Literacy Success Act was passed, which included new requirements for EPPs. In July, the State Board of Education voted to update the literacy standards for educator preparation. These new standards require all K-2 teachers to incorporate the Foundational Literacy Skills Standards, use of high-quality instructional materials, and trauma-informed instruction into their lessons to support early-grade preparation. Additionally, the curriculum resources will cover multiple endorsement areas, including special education and instructional leadership. 

“As the state continues to prioritize areas to improve teacher preparation aligned to last year’s special session, we believe strategic investments in foundational skills, high-quality instructional materials, and trauma informed schools are more important now than ever,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “This funding will help future educators to be prepared to step into their classrooms on day one and we are thrilled to award these grants to two exceptional partners dedicated to the success of our teachers and students.”

To be accessible to all EPPs in the state by the fall of 2022, these funds focus on developing coursework and curriculum content that can be integrated into existing courses in priority areas of focus, including foundational skills, implementation of high-quality instructional materials, and trauma-informed instruction. The curriculum resources will also focus on supporting students with disabilities, English language learners, and delivery in a virtual setting to ensure prospective teachers are successful in their future classrooms.

University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Deans for Impact, a non-profit organization dedicated to student education by providing teacher instruction and preparation, are creating the content and coursework to be used in EPPs across the state.

“I am excited about what the TDOE Innovation grants will produce that will make the preparation of teachers more effective and even easier,” said Dr. Ellen McIntyre, Dean, College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. “These modules, developed in collaboration among many professionals from multiple institutions, will be designed based on essential research on the science of reading, instructional materials, and trauma-informed teaching. It takes a team to do this well and I can already see evidence that the work is extraordinary.  This has great potential for high impact on student learning.”

“As a non-profit committed to ensuring that every child has a well-prepared teacher, Deans for Impact is proud to partner with faculty at four Tennessee Educator Preparation Providers to strengthen learning opportunities for future teachers,” said Dr. Peter Fishman, Vice President of Strategy for Deans for Impact. “This grant will help ensure that novice educators are able to challenge and engage all students in high-quality instruction.”

This is another initiative by the Tennessee Department of Education, like the Grow Your Own initiative and additional SPED and ESL endorsement opportunities, to invest in the growth of the state’s educators to ensure Tennessee is the best state to become and stay a teacher.

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact