The Education Innovator #40
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The Education Innovator
 December 1, 2003 • Number 40
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What's inside...
Benwood Initiative
What's New
More than 100 Black and Hispanic school district superintendents support the demands of NCLB; the Center for Education Reform launches a program to educate and inform parents; CER also releases a new report in its Charter Schools Today series; the Institute for Educational Leadership launches http//; and Idaho adopts the American Board's Passport to Teaching certification program.
Innovations in the News
The Broad Foundation's $6 million gift is expected to send close to 200 Detroit students to Michigan State University to become teachers; plus information on charter schools, parental involvement and private schools.

Benwood Initiative Fosters Teacher Quality through Professional Incentives
When the trustees of the Benwood Foundation, located in Chattanooga, TN, learned that nine of the state's twenty lowest performing schools were in their own city, they awarded a $5 million grant to the Public Education Foundation (PEF) of Chattanooga to raise student achievement. To improve student achievement, the focus was on attracting and retaining highly qualified teachers.

Started in 2001, this Benwood Initiative has rewarded teaching excellence by offering tangible incentives to teachers willing to transfer to the city's low-performing schools, and to excellent teachers who are already there:

  • $5,000 salary supplement for educators of grades 4-5 whose students earn an average score of 115 or higher on the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS). Other high performance indicators are used to determine which teachers of grades K-3 are chosen.
  • team bonuses for all full-time, certified professionals in schools with a total TVAAS average score of 120 or higher ($2,000) or 115 or higher ($1,000);
  • Master's degree program in urban education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga at no cost to the teacher; this opportunity was offered for the first time in the summer of 2003 through a grant from the Osborne Foundation with input from Johns Hopkins University;
  • financial help for teachers to buy homes in nine central downtown neighborhoods; teachers in the identified schools can receive a loan of up to $10,000. If they live in the homes for five years, the loan will be forgiven. A second mortgage of up to $20,000 can be applied to the down payment and closing costs.
  • free legal advice to eligible teachers through the Chattanooga Bar Association whose members provide pro bono work.
The efforts to maintain and raise teacher quality appear to be changing the nine schools. Data from the Terra Nova Achievement Tests show that all nine elementary schools made gains in reading, language, and math between the spring of 2001 and 2002. The total average gain for the Benwood supported schools was nearly double that of the district average.

The Benwood Foundation is part of a larger network in Chattanooga created to improve public education: the Community Education Alliance (CEA), a group of 15 top community leaders. Other organizations that collaborate with CEA and the Benwood Foundation include the Hamilton County Department of Education, the Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise, and the Lyndhurst Foundation. The Benwood Foundation was established in 1944 by George Thomas Hunter, owner of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, to further educational and other activities

Corrine Allen, the Executive Director of the Benwood Foundation, will be one of the panelists at OII's fourth Innovations in Education Exchange Series on December 2 on the topic of "Closing the Teacher Quality Gap." For more information on the Benwood Foundation, please view
  • Benwood Foundation
  • Community Education Alliance
  • Public Education Foundation
  • OII Innovations in Education Exchange Series

Note:The featured innovation is interesting and innovative, but does not necessarily have evidence of general effectiveness from a rigorous evaluation. The success of the project described may not be replicable, depending on unique conditions in differing locations.


What's New
Don't Turn Back The Clock! NCLB Not Perfect but Hugely Important
More than 100 black and Hispanic school district superintendents have expressed their support of the demands under No Child Left Behind, because " 'good schools' are good for all kinds of students, not just some." For more information, please view: Download files District Superintendents' Remarks (PDF). (Nov. 18)

Center for Education Reform
The Center for Education Reform (CER) has launched a program to inform parents about their opportunities under No Child Left Behind. The program, funded by a grant from OII, will assist parents in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina to tap into public school choice and tutoring services. For more information, please view: Center for Education Reform Press Release. (Nov. 18)

Charter Schools Today Series
CER has released a new report in its Charter Schools Today series. "A Record of Success" documents charter school achievement in the 24 states that offer comprehensive testing data. For the full report, please view: Download files Charter Schools Report (PDF). (Nov. 14)

Connecting Theme High Schools Across the Country
The Institute for Educational Leadership has launched, a new, online database and research resource to connect theme high schools across the country. (Nov. 18)

American Board for Certification of Teacher
Idaho has adopted the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence's Passport to Teaching certification program as a new route to full certification for the state's public schools teachers.


Innovations in the News

Teacher Recruitment
A $6 million gift from the Broad Foundation is expected to send close to 200 Detroit students to Michigan State University to become teachers and then bring them back to work in the district's schools when they graduate. [More-The Detroit News] (Nov. 9)

Charter Schools
Most of San Diego County's charter schools met or exceeded their target scores on the state's most recent Academic Performance Index. In fact, they did slightly better than many of their non-charter counterparts. [More-The San Diego Union Tribune] (Nov. 9)

Parental Involvement
The St. Paul, MN school district launched "St. Paul Learns," a comprehensive information system to connect parents better with what is happening in their children's schools. [More-The St. Paul Star Tribune] (Nov. 19)

Beginning in December, the State of New York will phase in its parental involvement program, which will include workshops run through church and parent groups and a CD-ROM giving parents tips on getting more involved in schools. [More-The Albany Times Union] (Nov. 17)

Private Schools
Parents in Tampa, FL have high hopes for Academy Prep, a private school aimed at teaching disadvantaged children through longer days, an extended school year, and a disciplined environment. Many see the school as a cornerstone in the revitalization of decaying East Tampa. [More-The St. Petersburg Times] (Nov. 19)

The program at Word of God Catholic School is an outgrowth of St. Anthony School Programs, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Now operating at 11 schools throughout the Pennsylvania region-seven elementary, three secondary and Duquesne University, where students receive vocational training-it has been nationally recognized for being inclusive of special education students. [More-The Pittsburgh Post Gazette] (Nov. 17)

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Last Modified: 04/26/2011