Teachers who use data to guide their classroom lessons can win up to $2,500 to boost those efforts through a new grant program.

The Institute for Quality Education is accepting applications through July 17 for the Catalyst for Quality grant, which will award two teachers, or a group of teachers, money to pilot data

innovations. To apply, go to the institute’s website.

Tosha Salyers, a spokeswoman for IQE, said the idea for the new award surfaced during a discussion about how to recognize teachers who are working on new ways to help their students improve their work. Recognizing teachers is part of the group’s mission.

“How can we objectively say that teachers are helping students?” Salyers said.

“The very best ideas to improve education come out of the classroom,” she said.

The institute will track the work of the winning teachers to try to discover new methods that other teachers could follow.

Other teacher honors like the $25,000 Hubbard Life-Changing Teacher Awards, which named winners last week, focus less on teaching strategies. With data to share, she hopes the institute’s winners will be able to show their impact with numbers.

“That’s a great award – it gives a lot of money to teachers,” she said. “But none of those (other awards) actually take a look at the impact the teacher has in the classroom.”

Finalists for Catalyst for Quality grants will be selected by an online vote. The institute will share profiles of each applicant via social media along with instructions on how to vote. During the final round, finalists will spend a day at the institute’s offices working with veteran educators, including local superintendents, to hone their pitches.

The finalists will then present their ideas to a panelist of local entrepreneurs, business and community leaders and other educators, who will decide the winners. They will be announced Aug. 6.

“They get to share their idea with other educators,” Salyers said. “That way, they get to refine it and make it as great as it can be.”

Salyers encouraged teachers in all grades and subjects from any school in the state to apply.

“We tried really hard not to be restrictive – we didn’t want teachers to say, ‘Oh, that doesn’t sound like it’s for me,’” Salyers said. “I’m hopeful that we’ll get teachers from all different types of schools. I love getting teachers together that don’t normally talk – getting an urban charter school teacher in the same room as a rural southern Indiana teacher.”