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February 12, 2004, Extra Credit
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February 12, 2004
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Attracting Highly Qualified Teachers To Underachieving Schools With Cash Bonuses From Federal Funds

As reported in today's Mobile Register, Mobile County, Alabama is developing a plan using the flexibility of No Child Left Behind to recruit highly qualified teachers at five struggling schools. Following are excerpts from the article:

"Highly qualified teachers can get as much as $40,000 in bonuses over the next five years for working at one of five low performing schools, according to further details of Mobile County schools' new incentive plan released Wednesday. Principals could get up to $60,000 at the selected schools.... The incentive program will cost the system $1.8 million, which will be taken out of federal funding. The five schools were chosen because they had the county's lowest scores on the Stanford Achievement Test. School system officials said the new plan would attract higher quality teachers and administrators to the underachieving schools, thus improving student learning and test scores."

"In addition to the bonuses, the Mobile County Public School System is giving the five schools $3.4 million on top of what they normally receive to buy textbooks and other materials, provide extra teacher training and other means of support for the troubled schools. The employees will get a bonus at the beginning of each of the five years. If standardized test scores improve, those employees can get more bonuses at the end of the year. Teachers, for example, would get $4,000 each fall—an automatic total of $20,000 over the five-year hitch. They would be eligible for another $4,000 at the end of each school year, based on student performance."

"Teachers who would like to apply for the incentives must complete an application that includes an essay on what they have done to improve student achievement at their current school. Teachers chosen to work at the five schools must be labeled as highly qualified by the state...."

"School system officials are calling the five schools 'transformation' schools and are saying the plan to improve the quality of the staffs at the schools will benefit the children. The Mobile Area Education Foundation citizen activist group supports the plan. Beverly Cooper, with the foundation, told the board Tuesday that the new incentives will 'bring the best to those who historically have gotten the least.' In accordance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act, school systems across the country are trying to eliminate the educational gap that exists between poor minorities and non-poor whites. Mobile County is the first school system in Alabama to offer an incentive program to attract highly qualified teachers to schools in the most need. At least 97 percent of the student body at each of the five targeted schools is black, and 90 percent is poor."

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Last Modified: 08/13/2013