Student Achievement Rewarding for City Teaching Teams

Article excerpt

Forty-three educators in Pittsburgh Public Schools have reaped two kinds of rewards: Their students are doing better than expected, and the educators are getting bonuses of as much as $11,000 as a result.

The educators at Allderdice, Brashear and Carrick high schools received a total of $169,660 in bonuses -- 70 percent from federal funds and 30 percent from the district -- as a result of success in the Promise Readiness Corps, in which teachers work with the same students in grades 9 and 10.

The district started the PRC in hopes that colleagues working together, continuity and building stronger relationships with students and parents would make more students eligible for Pittsburgh Promise scholarships.

City students who earn a 2.5 grade-point average in high school and have 90 percent attendance are eligible for up to $40,000 for postsecondary education.

The teachers receiving bonuses taught mostly the same students in ninth grade in 2011-12 and 10th grade in 2012-13 in what is called looping.

The teams typically included English, math, social studies and science teachers as well as special education teachers, counselors and social workers. The science teachers do not loop unless they are certified in both biology and chemistry.

At all three schools, nearly all ninth- and 10th-graders are in the Promise Readiness Corps group. The program is continuing this year in those grade levels.

Awards varied by team and were pro-rated based on how much time the educator was assigned to a team.

The most successful teams were at Pittsburgh Allderdice where the average award for 24 members of three teams was $6,685.

Four Allderdice teachers on one team for two years earned $11,000 each: Holly Neely, Michele Papalia, Jonathan Parker and Nicolle Schmiedlin. Three other members of the same team earned $5,500 each because they were each on the team for just one year: Terri Alessio, Amy Galloway-Barr and John Milcic.

Another team at Allderdice earned bonuses as high as $10,300.

The awards for 11 educators on two teams at Carrick averaged $808.

At Brashear, two of three teams didn't earn a bonus. For the nine educators on one team that did, the average was $778.

While there was a corps pilot program, these are the first bonuses for members of teams that were assigned the same students for two years.

Josh Aderholt, director of strategic compensation for the district, said that teacher participation on the PRC is voluntary and some of the teams were incomplete, which may be a major reason for differences in student results.

"The level of fidelity we see to the PRC model at Allderdice is very, very strong," he said.

The teams were judged on student growth over two years on four measures: attendance, core course pass rate, the district's own curriculum-based assessments, and the PSAT, a preliminary college entrance exam.

The growth was measured using a value-added statistical model that looked at whether the student did better than expected.

PRC teachers work more days and hours -- including early morning team meetings four days a week -- than other teachers and receive $9,300 a year above the pay scale to compensate them for time and leadership. …