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Published: Monday, 8/22/2011 - Updated: 2 years ago

More teachers moved into struggling TPS schools

NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo Public Schools officials hope to raise the district’s academic achievement by moving dozens of top teachers into the district’s lowest performing schools.

This year, 30 teachers gauged highly effective by the district have made three-year commitments to teach at seven low-performing schools in the Scott and Woodward learning communities. Toledo school officials announced the teacher assignments Monday at Samuel M. Jones at Gunckel Park Elementary school.

The teachers are part of the Toledo Review and Alternative Compensation System, a Toledo Public Schools program that rewards effective teachers, partly determined by measuring student academic achievement gains. They receive a 15 percent bonus by making a three-year commitment to those schools deemed low performing.

The teachers receive extensive professional development, and their students’ performance is tracked.

“Being a TRACS member empowers you to be a change agent,” said Roxanne Allen, a TRACS teacher at Scott High School.

The program is not new.

Implemented in 2003 after negotiations between TPS and its teachers’ union, the program included about 100 teachers last year. Under its original format, teachers could make an additional five, 10, or 15 percent of their base salary by conducting research, performing special projects for the district, or taking on leadership roles. The 15 percent pay increase only came when teachers moved to low-performing schools, an element of the program called TRACS 3.

The problem was that not enough teachers moved into TRACS 3; less than 10 did last school year, according to district officials.

It’s not unusual for district to have trouble staffing low-performing schools. So, the program was changed.

Now, teachers only receive additional funding under the TRACS program if they make a three-year commitment to low-performing schools. The changes mean the number of high-performing teachers in those schools will more than triple next year.

“There is power in numbers,” TPS chief academic office Jim Gault said.

The changes, just like the program itself, resulted from collaboration between the Toledo Federation of Teachers and the school district.

Union leaders and district officials altered the plan in sidebar discussions during contract negotiations.

Francine Lawrence, who recently stepped down as TFT president, helped develop the program. She said those involved in developing TRACS realized the traditional method of compensating teachers wasn’t ideal. She applauded the changes made to the program, since they resulted in more teachers moving into high-needs schools.

“To see this large cadre of excellent teachers who will teach at our academic emergency and academic watch schools is so exciting,” Ms. Lawrence said.

The TRACS program was altered in part to meet requirements of Race to the Top, a federal program aimed at reforming schools that is infusing $10.8 million into the Toledo district. School districts must develop a system that places the best teachers in the lowest performing schools under Race to the Top, the Obama administration’s signature education initiative.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at:
nrosenkrans@theblade.com 
or 419-724-6086.



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