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Frequently Asked Questions

MERIT: Making Education Relevant and Interactive through Technology


I applied for MERIT, now when do you expect the first round of decisions to be made?

We expect by Friday, February 28, 2014, to have identified an initial set of applicants for this year's cohort, as well as a small number to be placed on a waiting list.  If you have not heard from us by Friday, March 7, feel free to send questions to meritapplications@gmail.com.


Are there information sessions for those interested in applying to MERIT?

Yes; you are welcome to attend any of the four sessions listed below.  All sessions are 60 minutes and hosted at the Krause Center for Innovation on Foothill's campus (see the map linked below).

Tuesday, December 17: Session 1, 4:00-5:00pm and Session 2, 5:30-6:30pm

Wednesday, January 8: Session 3, 4:00-5:00pm and Session 4, 5:30-6:30pm

All sessions are held at the Krause Center for Innovation, Room 4006, Foothill College. 

Here is a page with driving directionsPark in Lot 4, bring some change with you, the parking fee is $3 cash (quarters or dollars). Look for the yellow vending machines. The KCI is the larger domed building to your right as you ascend the driveway into Lot 4. If you cannot attend one of the info sessions, feel free to contact the program at the address below. The volume of questions increases shortly before the deadline, and we cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered in time for an applicant to meet the deadline. We encourage all applicants to ask questions as early as possible.


What is MERIT?

Take a venture over to the  Welcome! page in this Web site to learn more about MERIT, then come right back for more answers to your questions. To see a one-page, graphic overview of the past MERIT 2012 Program, view or download the MERIT2013_Overview document in the attachments section below.


Who is eligible to apply?

MERIT seeks applications from teachers, educators, librarians, art educators, media specialists, etc., who teach in public, charter, or private schools, grades K-12, and community colleges who will have a teaching contract for 2014-15.  MERIT is open to California teachers in the local San Francisco Bay Area, other areas of California, and now beyond...to the U.S. and international! Past participants of MERIT and its predecessor program, Earn While You Learn (EWYL), are not eligible to participate. Past applicants to MERIT who were not accepted into the program are encouraged to apply!


What is the typical profile of a MERIT teacher?

Historically, the significant majority of successful applicants taught in grades 4-12, in all subjects, and in a public school in Silicon Valley. For the last three years, half the participants taught in STEM disciplines. There are many reasons why this profile has developed. Keep reading the FAQs for more clues.


Do I have to be a classroom teacher?

MERIT is a donor-sponsored program and the donors stipulate that the program support active classroom teachers directly.  While most applicants will be classroom teachers in K-12 schools, others, such as librarians, art educators, media specialists, etc., and community college instructors may also be candidates for participation.  The program is designed for classroom teachers, in that it is focused on large-group, long-term applications of technology in a school setting.


Do I have to teach a certain subject area or grade level or in a certain area?

The program does give preference to those who teach math or science.  However, the KCI seeks applicants from all grade levels and all subject areas, and follows a strict non-discrimination policy (see the "Non-Discrimination" section of this page). As part of MERIT, all participants will create projects that have math and/or science components.


What are the benefits of participating in MERIT?

We believe the principal benefits of the program will be the chance to enhance your teaching in dynamic ways using the tools and techniques you learn, as well as the collaboration you have with the other members of the cohort.  Individually, those who properly complete the program also will earn at least ten units of continuing education units, a tool for your classroom, a $750 check following the summer program (California teachers only), and another $750 check in the spring of 2015 (California teachers only).  These payments are made by check to participants for the full amount and are noted as "financial aid".  You should consult with a tax adviser or consultant regarding declaring it as income.


This is too good to be true! What will MERIT cost me, really?

You're right, MERIT offers loads of benefits to participants. Full disclosure coming up...MERIT teacher participants are expected to partner with the KCI in paying for some of the costs of the professional development units. For California participants, MERIT will pay for 5 units (CEUs) in the summer and participants themselves pay for the other 5 units taken in Spring, Fall, and Winter. At current Foothill College rates the total cost for the 5 units over three quarters is: $296. Non-California participants may pay for units if they wish, using the rates for out-of-state or international students.

Fees may go up for next year. Additional costs include parking fees of $3 per car per day. MERIT will pay all your parking fees for the summer institute and participants pay for parking on all other class days.


What classes do I need to take for MERIT?

MERIT is a program of professional development courses, 10 units in total, that will help you develop educational technology skills for implementing student centered learning projects into the standards-based curriculum. College units earned can help teachers move up the salary scale in some districts. Check with your district for specific requirements. Out-of-state and international participants are expected to participate, but are not required to register nor enroll for units.  The sequence of units follows:

1 unit Orientation Class taken in spring quarter (paid by participant)

5 units taken in Summer Institute (paid by MERIT)

2 units taken in fall quarter (post Summer Institute, paid by participant)

2 units taken in winter quarter (post Summer Institute, paid by participant)


How do I apply?

Start by looking at the Word document at the bottom of this page. We suggest that you take your time working out your answers to each question, making sure you check spelling and grammar, and keep to word limits where asked.  You will also need to have your principal fill out a form by the application deadline pledging to support you in your efforts to make innovative technologies a meaningful part of your teaching.  Finally, access the appropriate application form linked on the application questions page and paste your answers into the appropriate fields.  Note that you will not be able to save a partially completed form; once you submit the form, the application is in our hands.  If you have questions, you can send them to the general mailbox (meritapplications@gmail.com) and should get an answer within two to three business days.


How are the applications scored?

Applications are scored and calibrated to a common rubric by a variety of people including MERIT graduates, instructors, and administrators. Your name, school, and district are not included in any part of the scoring in order to assure anonymity and objectivity. Applicants who follow the directions and adhere to the word limit on open-ended questions score higher.


I am applying with one or more colleagues from my school.  How do I let you know this?

You will put the name(s) of anyone with whom you are applying in the appropriate text box in the online application.  Note that you will each need to apply separately; it is possible that not all members of a group will be selected to participate.


Should I partner with someone of the same subject, grade level, etc?

We do believe that being part of a team strengthens the chance that you will be able to share what you learn as part of MERIT with others at your school.  Whom you choose, however, is up to you, and should primarily be a function of your ability to work together productively.


Do my chances for acceptance increase if I apply with a partner?

There is a bump in the score of those who apply with others, as long as those identified also properly finished their applications.


I am applying alone.  Will it be possible to create partnerships during the program?

Yes.  We are confident that if interested you will be able to collaborate with one or more of the other participants.


When is the deadline?

The deadline is 11:59p on January 20, 2014.  Neither Foothill College nor the KCI will be responsible for any technical problems you have submitting the form.  We encourage all interested teachers to submit their applications as early as possible.


What else am I committing to doing if I am selected to be in the program?

The basic requirements for all applicants are outlined in the Requirements of Participants page in this site.


Can I still participate in the Summer Institute if I am not accepted?

No, but a waiting list is automatically created for those applicants who scored near the threshold for acceptance.  If a spot opens up ahead of you, it is possible you will be offered the chance to participate as a member of the cohort.


When is the Summer Institute?

The two-week summer program will be the ten weekdays from July 7-July 18, 2014, 8:30am - 3:30pm.  If you are accepted and find that you will need to be gone during any part of that time, we ask that you let the KCI know immediately so that we might offer your spot to someone else.

If you live outside of the San Francisco Bay Area and will be lodging near Foothill College for the Summer Institute, we recommend you arrive no later than the Friday before the start of the summer institute and leave no earlier than the Saturday after the summer institute.  In the past, we have been able to help those arriving by plane get from nearby airports to their hotel.  While we plan to do this again, we cannot guarantee it.


Where is the Summer Institute?

The program is scheduled to be held on the Foothill Community College campus at 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022. 


I understand that I will need to take FASTtech classes as part of MERIT.  How do I find out about them?

This is specific to participants from California. There is more information on the KCI FASTtech web page.  FASTtech classes taken at RAFT also can count towards requirements.


What kind of online tools should I know before I begin the program?

In terms of prerequisite knowledge, you only need to be able to use email regularly.  The preparation course that participants are required to take in the spring will introduce the collaborative tools necessary to do the work required.  As you are introduced before, during, and after the Summer Institute to various other learning and collaboration tools, you will be expected to work to master them quickly.  It is our belief that anyone who genuinely wants to learn a given tool and puts forth the effort to do so will be able to learn what is needed.


Do I have to attend the follow-up sessions in the academic year?

Yes.  On occasion, a participant has had to miss a follow-up class, and when this happens the person is given a set of online assignments.  Participants who live outside of the San Francisco Bay Area will meet these requirements through online activities and classes.


I'm ready!  How do I start?

Go to our page outlining the questions in the application and prepare them carefully.  Follow the instructions there, and when done, enter the information in the proper application form on the same page.  Make sure your principal does his or her part by submitting the form supporting your application.  Good luck!



Krause Center for Innovation, Foothill College • 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022 • krauseinnovationcenter.org • 650-949-7680
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Steven McGriff,
Dec 5, 2013, 10:06 PM
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Steven McGriff,
Dec 5, 2013, 10:06 PM
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