Did The Bonus Money Make A Difference?

One of the many things Arne mentioned in his Congressional testimony this week was that teachers at 10 Chicago schools were about to get bonuses.

The 10 participating schools are: Cameron Elementary School, 1234 N. Monticello Ave., Gresham Elementary School, 8524 S. Green St., Lawndale Community Academy, 3500 W. Douglas Blvd., LEARN Charter School, 1132 S. Homan St., McCorkle Elementary School, 4421 S. State St., Multicultural Arts High School (Little Village campus), 3120 S. Kostner Ave., Sumner Academy, 4320 W. Fifth Ave., Telpochcalli Elementary School, 2832 W. 24th Blvd., Wells Preparatory School, 244 E. Pershing Rd., Westcott Elementary School, 409 W. 409 W. 80th St.

The questions here aren't theoretical or ideological, but rather concrete and specific: How much will teachers and staff at these schools get? Did these schools do any better or worse than other similar schools this year? Did it make folks work harder, or smarter, or make no difference?

As you may recall, CPS received a giant ($27M) grantfor this effort almost two years ago, and under the program name REAL

(Recognizing Excellence in Academic Leadership) was supposed to

generate roughly $500K per school based on test scores (75 percent) and

in-class evaluations (25 percent). Over all, 40 schools are supposed to participate over a five year period -- based on a vote by teachers to participate in the program.

Who gets the extra dough? The Chicago plan provides pay incentives for teachers and support staff

who work in high poverty schools, but also rewards teachers up to

$8,000 for improved student performance over the course of the year.

In addition, according to this 2007 article (Teacher Merit Pay Close Race Gap?),

some Chicago teachers have been given bonuses for teaching in high-need

schools -- $15K -- where teacher turnover is 30 percent per year. Readhere for the description from Substance of just how little union involvement there was in the decisionmaking process.

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