Rewarding Educators

Interesting stuff.  When asked why some teachers would leave public schools for ‘less pay & benefits’ in a charter setting, the answer might be: “because they can earn more”

Does Incentive Pay Lead to Improved Student Performance?

Teachers, Principals Earn Bonuses as 20 Detroit-Area Charter Schools Take Part in Landmark Federal Research Project

LANSING, Michigan (August 22, 2012) – Teachers and principals at 20 Detroit-area charter schools cashed their first bonus checks last week as part of an innovative federal research project being administered by the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA), the state charter school association.

The educators earned the bonuses – thousands of dollars each in most cases – based on marked student achievement at their schools. All told, about $1.1 million in bonuses were paid to teachers and principals at the 20 charter schools.

MAPSA’s project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) program, and is designed to help develop an effective school-improvement model while determining whether incentive pay has an effect on student achievement.

When the project kicked off two years ago, the 20 schools in the program were randomly split into two groups. Teachers and principals at the 10 schools in the Incentive Group can earn up to 15 percent of their base pay as a bonus if they meet certain targets, both individually and school-wide. Educators at the 10 schools in the Control Group, meanwhile, are earning a 1 percent bonus across the board. Researchers at Mathematica Policy Research Inc. will monitor the results between groups to determine whether increased incentive pay results in increased student performance.

One constant among educators at all the participating charter schools, though: They’re all receiving intensive and enhanced professional development and training, designed to help them become more effective teachers and school leaders.

The 10 schools in the Incentive Group are Detroit Community Schools, Old Redford Academy, Dove Academy, Plymouth Educational Center, Timbuktu Academy, Conner Creek East Academy, Crescent Academy, PACE Academy, Hanley International Academy and University Prep Science and Math. The 10 schools in the Control Group are Bradford Academy, Marvin L. Winans Academy Elementary, Marvin L. Winans Academy Middle School, Universal Academy, Eaton Academy, George Crockett Academy, Bridge Academy, David Ellis Academy, David Ellis West Academy and Woodard Academy. All the schools are located in Detroit or nearby suburbs.

The five-year program is funded by a $25 million federal grant that was awarded in 2010. After a year of planning, the 20 schools in the program just completed the first year of implementation. Hundreds of teachers and principals cashed their first bonus checks last week.

There are several similar research projects taking place throughout the country, but this is the only one in Michigan. MAPSA has dubbed the program TEAMS, which stands for Teacher Excellence and Academic Milestones for Students.

“The TEAMS project is very exciting on a number of levels,” said Dan Quisenberry, MAPSA President. “First, it’s allowing MAPSA to support some very high-quality and intensive professional development. As a result, the teachers and principals at all 20 schools have access to tools and training that will lead to improved student performance at their schools. And the research component of the project is truly groundbreaking. The information that’s being collected as a result of the TEAMS project will help reform education for years to come, allowing schools to continue to innovate. It’s so exciting that this is happening at charter schools in Michigan, and we’re extremely proud to be part of this project.”

Quisenberry pointed out the early returns show that student performance is on the rise at the TEAMS schools. He pointed to the recent list of Rewards Schools that was released by the Michigan Department of Education – the elite group of schools in the state that showed the highest level of achievement or improvement in the past year. Among the 286 schools on the Rewards list were two TEAMS schools – Crescent Academy and David Ellis Academy.

“I can’t tell you how much pride we felt when we saw that two of our TEAMS schools had made the Rewards Schools list, along with the other charter schools that were listed,” Quisenberry said. “In the end, it’s all about quality and boosting achievement, to help prepare these students for higher education and meaningful careers in the 21st century. It’s gratifying to see these schools are moving in the right direction.”

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The Michigan Association of Public School Academies advances quality education through choice and innovation. MAPSA has been the unified voice of the public charter school movement in Michigan since 1996. MAPSA represents more than 115,000 students, 5,000 teachers, dozens of authorizers and more than 50 education service providers working in 255 public charter schools in the state. MAPSA assists the state’s public charter schools in their mission to deliver achievement, choice and accountability through advocacy, communications, technical assistance and professional development services. For additional information, please visit www.charterschools.org.

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