Historic grant propels Radford University to national forefront

Radford University’s Innovative Mobile Personalized Accelerated Competency Training (IMPACT) program was awarded a historic three-year, $13.8 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education’s Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) Grant Program. The grant began on Oct. 1 and runs through Sept. 30, 2020 and is the largest grant in the history of Radford University and boosts Radford’s annual grant funding by more than 50 percent in the first fiscal year.

The SEED grant will expand IMPACT to include Appalachian Support for Specialized Education Training (ASSET), which includes the development, implementation and evaluation of online, self-paced, competency-based education (CBE) training designed to increase teacher effectiveness and workforce capacity in underserved rural communities in Appalachia.

ASSET will serve 5,000 K-12 educators, with the primary goal of increasing the number of highly effective educators in K-12 high-need schools in rural Appalachia, including Virginia, Tennessee and West Virginia by building educators’ knowledge and skills in evidence-based practices through CBE learning models.

Through Radford University's innovative IMPACT Program, ASSET provides a groundbreaking opportunity for our teachers to receive training and support that will further strengthen our economy in Southwest Virginia and the rest of Appalachia. I applaud Radford University and the other grant partners for contributing to the success of this important initiative and assisting in our efforts to build a new Virginia economy by increasing teacher effectiveness and workforce capacity in underserved rural communities.”

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

All CBE content and experiences will incorporate simSchool simulations based on the Institute of Educational Sciences (IES) What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guides that increase teacher effectiveness. The ASSET program will increase the number of highly effective teachers in rural Appalachian communities by providing micro-credentials in WWC-approved evidence-based practices. The program will also develop a unique set of five micro-credentials in high demand areas such as inclusive literacy instruction for elementary and secondary general curriculum classrooms, inclusive math instruction for elementary and secondary general curriculum classrooms, and inclusive problem solving for high need secondary students.

"Since our founding more than 100 years ago, Radford University has a long and distinguished record of training educators," Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill said. "With this historic grant, we can continue our tradition of excellence in training teachers in a new way that reinforces the fact that Radford is at the forefront of teacher education and will serve to make a difference in the future of our communities. I commend the work of Drs. Matt Dunleavy, Brooke Blanks, Kenna Colley, Amanda Bozack and Greg Sherman in making this goal a reality."

Dunleavy, executive director of IMPACT and project director of ASSET, said that the IMPACT program at Radford University is in the process of rapidly developing the Commonwealth’s workforce in cybersecurity and geospatial intelligence, and that the same model will be used to address other critical shortage areas in special education.

This is great news for Southwest Virginia and Radford University, which has been at the forefront of attracting young professionals that continue to help revitalize the region. This federal funding will leverage technology and cutting-edge, evidence-based practices to equip teachers in high-need schools in rural Appalachia with the skills they need to better serve students and prepare our future workforce.”

U.S. Senator Mark Warner

"We are thrilled to receive this funding from the U.S. Department of Education, and we are committed to extending the IMPACT Lab’s competency-based approach to serve high need classrooms throughout rural Appalachia through the ASSET program," Dunleavy said.

CBE is a training approach that focuses on teaching specific, job-related skills that are needed to perform critical tasks within a workplace context. CBE decouples learning from traditional time-based models and forgoes the traditional course format to empower working adults with career advancing skills through self-paced online instruction.

As part of the CBE framework, the working professional is able to go at their own pace through a structured program and use their pre-existing knowledge to go through sections about which they already have a sound understanding by demonstrating proficiency in the courses.

"ASSET is innovative, optimistic and practical," said Blanks, associate professor of Special Education. "Nationally, we have a persistent and critical shortage of teachers, particularly in rural schools. ASSET is a model of solution orientation. Our focus is on maximizing the resources we currently have, namely building instructional capacity among our highly committed, long-term teachers working in our rural Appalachian schools. IMPACT’s CBE approach within the ASSET program allows us to give them the knowledge and skills they want, without ever having to leave their local communities."

I am thrilled this federal funding will help Radford University ensure teachers in rural Appalachia have the training and resources they need. Radford University has played a tremendous role in Virginia and the Appalachian region, and I believe this funding will allow the university to continue to make an impact in supporting students, particularly from rural communities.”

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine

The ASSET CBE teacher-training program will serve as a national dissemination platform for the IES WWC practice guides, while the ASSET program will develop a replicable and scalable national model for CBE-enabled teacher effectiveness training in critical shortage areas. The ASSET program will be one of the first self-paced, competency-based teacher effectiveness training programs to embed learning science, analytics, simulation-based learning and gamification principles into every aspect of the CBE instructional design.

"The ASSET grant is a game-changer for professional development for all teachers in rural Appalachia," said Colley, dean of the College of Education and Human Development. "The professional development format is accessible, provides research-based interventions that can be easily replicated in classrooms and they will be expertly delivered by our faculty in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership (STEL). What an amazing accomplishment for all of us at Radford University."

The $13.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education highlights Radford University’s leadership role in Virginia. The ASSET program shows great promise for improving education in underserved parts of Appalachia. I congratulate Radford on its success and look forward to its future achievements.”

Rep. Morgan Griffith

The design will integrate culturally-responsive, place-based strategies grounded in real challenges and educational barriers that exist in rural Appalachia today while establishing evidence for replicable practices to inform future CBE models. Findings from the research and program evaluations will be disseminated among K-12 and higher education practitioners, researchers and administrators to inform policy, research and practices related to teacher training and development.

"We are excited that the ASSET program builds on the strengths of the traditional programs offered in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership," said Bozack, director of STEL. "We have a strong reputation for producing high-quality inclusive educators and with the help of our collaborators at the Virginia and Tennessee Departments of Education, SimSchool, HumRRO and SRI, we believe that we can make an immediate impact in classrooms across the Appalachian region. Together, we will provide practicing teachers with the skills and knowledge they need to serve students in their classrooms the next day, while also ensuring that the methods we use are effective and create positive changes for students."

Voices from around the Commonwealth

Leaders from around the Commonwealth of Virginia shared their thoughts on Radford University receiving the SEED grant to initiate the ASSET CBE program.

Governor Terry McAuliffe: "Through Radford University's innovative IMPACT Program, ASSET provides a groundbreaking opportunity for our teachers to receive training and support that will further strengthen our economy in Southwest Virginia and the rest of Appalachia. I applaud Radford University and the other grant partners for contributing to the success of this important initiative and assisting in our efforts to build a new Virginia economy by increasing teacher effectiveness and workforce capacity in underserved rural communities."

U.S. Senator Mark Warner: "This is great news for Southwest Virginia and Radford University, which has been at the forefront of attracting young professionals that continue to help revitalize the region. This federal funding will leverage technology and cutting-edge, evidence-based practices to equip teachers in high-need schools in rural Appalachia with the skills they need to better serve students and prepare our future workforce."

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine: "I am thrilled this federal funding will help Radford University ensure teachers in rural Appalachia have the training and resources they need. Radford University has played a tremendous role in Virginia and the Appalachian region, and I believe this funding will allow the university to continue to make an impact in supporting students, particularly from rural communities."

Representative Morgan Griffith (9th District): "The $13.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education highlights Radford University’s leadership role in Virginia. The ASSET program shows great promise for improving education in underserved parts of Appalachia. I congratulate Radford on its success and look forward to its future achievements."

Virginia Secretary of Education Dietra Trent: "As Virginia and the nation continue to grapple with severe teacher shortages, we need innovative solutions for improving educational outcomes. With ASSET, Radford University is ensuring that teachers in high-need areas have the tools, training and support they need to change lives."

State Senator Ben Chafin (38th District): "Radford University has always been a key component to the success of Southwest Virginia and the New River Valley by playing a pivotal role in economic development, workforce training, and of course education. It is great news for the region and for the university that Radford will be receiving their largest grant ever awarded and for a critical program. ASSET will provide needed training and resources to public education in the region and is yet another way Radford University is a leader in rural Appalachia."

Delegate Steve Landes (25th District), chairman of the House Education Committee: "Congratulations to Radford University on receiving funding for the Appalachian Support for Specialized Education Training (ASSET) program. This $13.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education is well deserved and will help Radford University continue to play an instrumental role in education for Southwest Virginia and throughout the Commonwealth. The ASSET program provides an innovative approach to increase teacher effectiveness and workforce capacity in rural Appalachia and helps serve 5,000 educators in K-12 high-need schools. I am excited to learn that Radford will be a benefactor of the ASSET program and wish President Hemphill and Radford University continued success in their mission to serve the Commonwealth and beyond."

Delegate Joseph Yost ’06 MA ’08 (12th District), member of the Education and the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committees: As an alumnus of Radford University and member of the Higher Education subcommittee in the House, this is fantastic news. With the ASSET program, RU has once again proven its vital role in our region in the areas of teacher training and career development. This innovative approach will be a huge step forward to increase teacher effectiveness and workforce capacity in rural underserved communities in Appalachia."

Delegate Nick Rush (7th District) member of the Appropriations Committee and the Appropriations Higher Education Subcommittee: "I was pleased to learn about Radford University being selected as the recipient of this grant and am certain that it will be of great value to future generations of educational preparedness. As one of the leading institutions of higher education in the region, the ASSET program offers Radford University students an innovative approach to increased teacher effectiveness and workforce capacity in the New River Valley and Southwest Virginia, especially in rural Appalachia. This is definitely an exciting time for President Hemphill and all Highlanders. Congratulations!"

Oct 6, 2017
Max Esterhuizen
540-831-7749
westerhuizen@radford.edu