What are BEST grants?
BEST grants are used by districts to create and implement systems of support that attract, train, and retain novice teachers. These competitive grants are awarded to school districts and/or regional consortia
when funds are made available by the Legislature.
When are grants available and how do we apply?
Grants become available in late spring or summer depending on when the Legislature passes the budget. For questions or assistance in planning for a grant, contact our BEST Program Coordinator, Marcy Yoshida, email@example.com or BEST Program Specialist
Tessa O'Connor, firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do we get a grant? What do we have to do if we receive one?
The competitive grant process considers the following:
- Evidence of Need - Recent history around new hires and placement challenges
- Evidence of Capacity - A commitment to use funds to build local expertise, examine and alter induction policies and practices, and invest in a long-term strategy for supporting beginning teachers
- Leadership - Identification of a district stakeholder team that will collaborate to create a system of coordinated support for novice teachers
- Instructional Focus - Time for reflection and opportunities to be observed
and receive feedback from a trained mentor
- Differentiated Support - Special attention given to the way that novice teachers are placed and supported when they are assigned to high-need students and high-need schools
- Alignment with Standards for Beginning Teacher Induction
- A letter of support from the superintendent
How much do we get if we receive a grant?
In 2015-2016, grantee districts received $2,500 per first-year teacher as reported on October 1.
In addition, continuing grantees received $500 per second-year teacher as
reported on October 1, 2015.
- Create an induction team. Who are the people you want to be part of the conversation and planning? Who are the stakeholders that can help coordinate support and remove barriers? Consider representatives from Human Resources, Teaching and Learning departments, a principal, a mentor, and the teachers' association.
- Begin to articulate the need. Pay particular attention to areas of
high need - either high-need students who are frequently served by novice
teachers or areas that are difficult to staff. What data show the district's
need for changes in induction practices? Where are the student learning gaps and
how do those compare with where new teachers are often placed?
- Examine impact of novice teacher placement by using the
New Teacher Placement-Equity for Students worksheet.
- Review your district's equity data gathered and reported recently as
part of the
Washington State's Equitable Access Plan.
Links at the bottom of that page lead to district data highlighting high
numbers of inexperienced teachers and possible gaps in access for various
- Become familiar with OSPI's Standards for Beginning Teacher Induction. What's already in place? What gaps are you seeing? What might your next steps be?
- Begin to think about placement of novice teachers. How are novice teachers placed and what kinds of increased support do they receive when they are assigned to high-need students and high-need schools?
Required program components to be implemented by grant recipients for 2017-2018 included:
Well-trained, carefully selected mentors to enhance the instructional effectiveness of first-year educators. Mentors of first-year educators will provide an average of 1-2 hours per week for planning and reflection conferences, observations, and providing feedback for each mentee. The caseload for released mentors supporting first-year teachers should not exceed 1:20 for a full-time mentor. Colleague mentors (full-time classroom teachers who also mentor) should not mentor more than 2 first-year teachers. (See p. 2 of this grant for more detailed definitions of these roles.) Districts that use classroom teachers as mentors commit to building a cadre of trained mentors who develop expertise over time, rather than using a one-year Ã¢â‚¬Å“buddy system.Ã¢â‚¬Â Mentors should be assigned at or shortly after hiring and prior to new educators beginning their assignments;
An instructional orientation and/or individualized assistance prior to the start of school (Aug. 2017) or the start of the new educator's assignment to acquaint them with district and school expectations and culture; orient them to preferred instructional practices and curriculum; and help them plan for their first day, weeks, and month with students. First-year educators must be compensated for their time;
A classroom set-up visit prior to the start of school (Aug. 2017) or the start of the new educator's assignment in which a mentor meets with the new educator to review classrooms set-up and plans for the first days with students;
On-going professional learning for beginning educators designed to meet their unique needs throughout the first year. Professional learning is aligned to the Washington State 8 Teacher Evaluation Criteria (or other professional standards when relevant) and the district's adopted instructional framework. Special attention should be given to Criteria 1, 2, 5, and 6;
Formative observations with written feedback for mentees provided at least monthly by released mentors and a minimum of four times per year by colleague mentors;
Release time for observations for mentees to observe accomplished teaching while accompanied by their mentor or other instructional leader, and (optional) for mentees to observe their mentors;
Professional learning for mentors, including completion of the 3-day OSPI Mentor Academy 101 (preferably BEFORE the initial year of mentoring and no later than December of that year) and continued professional learning to build capacity in components of the new OSPI Standards for Mentoring. Mentors should participate in and be compensated for attending roundtables which may be hosted by OSPI, regional ESDs, regional consortia, and/or school districts. OSPI will provide Mentor Roundtable facilitator training and will coordinate a statewide communications network to support the work of roundtables and their membership;
Job description and compensation for mentors of early career educators for required activities that fall outside the mentor's regular job responsibilities. Recommended forms of compensation include extended contracts and hourly curriculum pay;
Special attention to the needs of early-career educators in challenging schools and/or working with students facing the most challenges;
Stakeholders' Team to meet at least 3 times per year in order to examine the current state of comprehensive new educator induction, gather and review data, problem-solve, and set goals. In order to build a sense of collective responsibility, members should represent multiple groups across the district (e.g., district administration, building administration, classroom teacher, mentor, recently new teacher, professional learning, special education department, teachers' association);
BEST Grantee Convening attendance by up to 5 members of the "Stakeholders' Team" that extends beyond a team of mentors, to be held March 2018, (location TBD);