A $2.3 million federal grant has expanded to include eight more school districts and two subject areas, the University of Central Arkansas announced Tuesday.
The university said in a statement that the grant will now include English and language arts subject areas. The Carlisle, Dollarway, El Dorado, Harrison, Pine Bluff, Watson Chapel, West Memphis and White Hall school districts will also be added to the grant, the university said.
The U.S. Department of Education grant, known as the Transition to Teaching federal grant, was initially awarded to UCA in 2011 to prepare math and science teachers for North Little Rock and Little Rock school districts, the university said. UCA was the only school in the state to receive the grant.
The grant helps efforts to bring in mid-career professionals along with recent graduates with degrees in areas other than education and help them become teachers through alternative certifications, the university said.
The university said teachers earn preliminary licenses while working as interns in the 10 partnership school districts. Upon completion of the Master of Arts in Teaching program, teachers are required to teach three years in high-need schools, the university said.
"We are excited about the prospect of serving more school districts and students in different areas of the state of Arkansas," Carolyn Williams, professor in the College of Education and principal investigator for the Partnership for Transition to Teaching grant, said in the statement. "We are also looking forward to receiving funding applications from prospective English and Language Arts teachers.”
All the school districts that benefit from the grant report at least 20 percent of families living at or below the poverty line, the university said. The districts also report less than 2 percent of teachers not fully certified to teach in their subject.