Indiana educators teaching classes in science, technology, engineering or math have the opportunity to take free graduate or undergraduate classes through a grant from the Independent Colleges of Indiana.
The ICI grant provides more than $2 million in tuition for teachers to take STEM related undergraduate or graduate courses and workshops at private universities in Indiana.
ICI President Richard Ludwick says the organization wanted to give dual credit teachers a cost effective opportunity to meet new requirements put forth by the Higher Learning Commission.
The Higher Learning Commission, an accreditation group that works with many states, changed requirements for dual credit teachers last year. It now requires these teachers to have a masters degree and at least 18 credit hours in the subject area they teach.
These requirements affect thousands of teachers in Indiana teaching high school classes that double as college credit. Ludwick says his organization wanted to help some of these dual credit teachers because it is a costly requirement change from the HLC.
“We consider it a socially responsible cause,” Ludwick says.
The ICI asked the state legislature to fund the grant, and received the $2 million last year. This funding is expected to last about four semesters, but Ludwick says he is already looking for ways to make it a sustainable program.
“We’re approaching foundations to say this is a real need that our communities have, and we’re providing a cost effective solution,” Ludwick says.
The program started this past semester, and Ludwick says it’s already enrolled more than 300 teachers. There is high demand, with the summer courses already on a wait list, meaning future semesters will likely have an enrollment cap.