2008-09-26 / School News

Mayor, Department Of Education Set Performance Bonuses

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, and Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest Logan announced on Thursday that more than 6,000 elementary and middle school educators will receive bonuses totaling $19.7 million for significantly improving student achievement in their schools. Teachers and other members of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) at 89 high-need schools whose students met performance targets will receive bonuses totaling $14.2 million as part of a new school-wide performance bonus pilot developed by the Department of Education (DOE) and the UFT in October 2007. In another bonus program based on school Progress Report results, principals and assistant principals at 262 schools also qualified for bonuses of up to $25,000, $10,000 more than the largest bonus available to administrators in previous years. The bonuses given to principals and assistant principals totaled $5.5 million.

"In every good company, excellence is rewarded," said Mayor Bloomberg. "These bonuses allow us to retain our best teachers and principals and to help us recruit the most talented new educators to our schools—and I'm proud that New York City is leading the way in putting this powerful idea to work."

"I'm thrilled that the UFT and the DOE have been able to collaborate so successfully in rewarding thousands of New York City public school educators for their excellence in helping students succeed, particularly in schools where students need the most help," Chancellor Klein said. "We've created one of the largest school bonus programs in the country because we're committed to recognizing the work of teachers, principals, and other staff who help students succeed. Thanks to their efforts, more students than ever before are performing at or above grade level, and that means more students have a real shot at success."

"Teacher quality and school-wide collaboration are key factors in the success of any school, and part of this program's intent was to promote these two factors. We negotiated this program because we believe so strongly that teamwork focused on instruction is crucial to student achievement, and these results show that this is true. While this program is not perfect, this type of differentiated pay is a far cry from the divisive individual merit pay plans we fight against," Ms. Weingarten said. "Although it does not address all the factors that affect school improvement - such as good working conditions and adequate resources - it does empower teachers and it brings decision-making to the school level while fostering a culture of collaboration focused directly on school improvement."

"Accountability is not only about accepting responsibility, it's also about rewarding success. These educators have proven that through collaboration, dedication and commitment, increased student achievement is possible," Mr. Logan said. "CSA first negotiated performance bonuses in our 1999 contract because we wanted to keep quality school leaders working in NYC and we believe in rewarding success.

With continued partnership between the CSA, UFT, DOE, and parents, I'm confident that not only will we continue to see more students meeting educational standards; we will see more students exceeding these standards."

The school-wide performance bonus program offered teachers and other UFT staff members at approximately 240 schools, selected randomly from the City's highest-needs schools, the opportunity to earn bonuses. Schools received bonuses for their teachers and UFT staff if the schools met student performance targets set at the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year or if schools maintained an "A" Progress Report grade. Teachers and UFT staff at 205 schools, 86% of those eligible, voted to participate in the pilot. Teachers and UFT staff at 89 elementary and middle schools, 56% of 160 participating elementary and middle schools, qualified for bonuses totaling $14.2 million.

Schools that met their performance targets will receive a bonus award equivalent to $3,000 for each full-time UFT staff member. Schools that made at least 75% of their targeted improvements will receive a bonus award equivalent to $1,500 for each full-time UFT staff member. Schools that earned an A this year and last year but made less than 75% of their targeted improvement also will receive $1,500 for each full-time UFT staff member. The average bonus amount for a school that qualified was $160,095.

Bonuses will be distributed according to the disposition of each school's "compensation committee," which consisted of the school's principal, a designee of the principal, and two UFT representatives chosen by the school's UFT membership. Some compensation committees chose to divide bonuses equally among all UFT staff members, while others chose to differentiate by position or individual contribution. Committees could not use seniority as a factor in distributing the funds and had to reach a consensus on how to allocate the bonus awards.

"New York City is leading the country in offering bonuses to teachers and principals responsible for the most student gains," said Eli Broad, founder of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. "These first bonuses are a win-win for students and teachers alike and other cities would do well to follow suit."

"The school-wide performance bonus program is an important breakthrough in our approach to public education," said Partnership for New York City President and CEO Kathryn Wylde. "The business community congratulates the leadership of the UFT, as well as the Mayor and Chancellor, for coming up with an innovative approach that has obviously inspired a new level of teamwork and achievement in our education system that should be a national model."

"We know that teachers work hard every day and we're thrilled with the results of this program," said David Saltzman, Executive Director of Robin Hood Foundation.

"Robin Hood is based on applying business principles to charitable giving and this bonus program represents some basic business principles- rewarding teachers for achieving the crucial outcomes of increased student performance."

The City's 2007 contract with the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators aligned the bonus system for principals and assistant principals with the DOE's school accountability measurements for the first time, allowing school leaders to be rewarded based on the success of their students on Progress Reports. Principals of schools whose Progress Report scores are in the top 20% citywide among elementary, middle, high or K-8 schools receive a bonus of up to $25,000.

Principal bonuses are awarded as follows: • principals receive $25,000 if they scored in the top 1% (12 principals), $17,000 if they scored in the top 2-5% (39 principals), $12,000 if they scored in the top 6-10% (50 principals), and $7,000 if they scored in the top 11-20% (102 principals); • in addition, 59 principals who did not qualify for this bonus but whose schools qualified for a reward under the school-wide performance bonus program receive a bonus of $7,000 if their school made its targeted amount of improvement and $3,500 if it made 75% of its targeted improvement;

In all schools where principals are receiving bonuses, assistant princi-pals will receive half the bonus their principal receives. A total of 262 ele-mentary and middle school princi-pals, as well as their assistant princi-pals, will receive $5.5 million in bo-nuses.

Bonuses for teachers, principals and other educators working in high schools will be determined when high school Progress Reports are released later this fall. Schools that participated in the pilot performance bonus program will be invited to participate again this year.

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