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Published: Wednesday, 10/20/2010

TPS outlines plan for teacher incentives

BY CHRISTOPHER D. KIRKPATRICK
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Scott and Woodward high schools and the elementary and middle schools that feed into them would be in the program, once it's refined and set into motion, Superintendent Jerome Pecko said. Likewise, teachers whose students don't show enough improvement over a certain period of time might receive remediation and extra training or ultimately lose their jobs, depending on the final version of the plan, he said.

"The ultimate penalty is that you're gone," said Mr. Pecko, who emphasized that the program details are still being hammered out.

A committee of five teachers and five administrators has been working on a draft version of the program, which would be subject to approval from the state and the Toledo Board of Education.

The program would use Race To The Top grant money that the state recently won in an ultra-competitive bidding process. The money is meant for school systems to create novel education programs that work to close the achievement gap between whites and minorities and also to help other disadvantaged groups to achieve academically.

TPS's share, based on the state's funding formula, is $10.8 million.

The initiative would mimic existing pay-for-progress programs in other states and be the latest effort to fix chronically poorly performing schools that do not improve enough on end-of-grade tests from year to year, according to state report cards.

Toledo Public Schools received a "continuous improvement" score this year, the equivalent of a C letter grade. But nine individual schools, two more than last year, were given the lowest "academic emergency" label. The district also failed to meet expectations in reading and math scores for two subgroups, black and disabled students.

Mr. Pecko said the new program likely would use the "value-added" index as a gauge of teacher and school progress from year-to-year.

It's appropriate because the measure tries to determine if a student has improved enough from one year to the next. It's a measure of the value the school added to the student's education over the one school year.

The value-added measure is one of four components that goes into the state's final assessment of a school and district.

Fran Lawrence, president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers, said she signed off on the committee looking into a program.

However, she said she would wait until the committee completes its work before commenting on the idea.

She did say teachers perform the best when they collaborate within schools in logical groups, such as by grade level or by subject.

And she said teaching success is strongly associated with positive collaboration between teachers and management.

Ms. Lawrence said that Birmingham School in East Toledo proves her point. The hybrid K-8 school received a state rating this year of "excellent" for the first time - the equivalent of an A letter grade.

The school jumped two notches in just one year from "continuous improvement," the equivalent of a C.

Birmingham has one of the most impoverished student bodies in the district, with more than 90 percent of students qualifying for a federally subsidized school lunch. Poverty is viewed as a traditional road block to high student performance.

"There's great value in teamwork," she said.

Contact Christopher D. Kirkpatrick at:

ckirkpatrick@theblade.com

or 419-724-6134.



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