Posted: Feb 25, 2011 6:43 PM by Courtney Meznarich
Updated: Feb 25, 2011 9:24 PM
A local school district will soon start shelling out teacher bonuses based on performance and student growth.
Friday, teachers in the Lucia Mar Unified School District overwhelmingly voted in favor of the federally funded System for Teacher and Student Advancement, called TAP. It affects six district schools. The program assigns mentors to give classroom feedback and awards teachers with bonuses for a job well done. But teachers say the real bonus is the effect TAP will have on students, because as research shows, a good teacher can make a world of difference.
"I guess at first I was like, anything new, you know you're suspicious at first," said Teacher's Association President Lloyd Walzer of the TAP program.
In a world of constant budget cuts, it seems too good to be true- a $7.2 million federal grant to put the TAP program in the Lucia Mar Unified School District. But teachers couldn't be happier about it.
"We want to be the best we can be, and TAP is going to help us do that," said Fairgrove Elementary School Principal Lara Storm.
Part of the money goes toward a full time master teacher and two mentor teachers at each campus. They'll give other teachers feedback and coaching, and meet for an hour each week to share ideas and strategies "so that they can be more effective in terms of using those instructional strategies," said Superintendent Jim Hogeboom. "If we have effective teachers, that's going to lea to more learning for our students."
The rest of the money will be spent on bonuses for teachers and principals. 50% of each bonus is based on how a teacher performs on the TAP rubric. Another 30% comes when students reach their growth targets, and the last 20% is when the school reaches its growth target as a whole.
Nationwide, 94% of all TAP teachers get an average $3,000 bonus each year.
"The bonus will come and that's not even the most important part of the program,"said Walzer.
Supporters say it's a win-win for teachers and their students.
"The mood on campus today is just very happy and upbeat despite the rainy weather, so it's good," said Storm.
The program is only offered to high-needs schools where at least 50% of students are eligible for free and reduced lunches.
The program starts this fall at Nipomo, Lange, Oceano and Fairgrove Elementary, as well as Mesa and Judkins Middle Schools. The grant allows TAP to operate for five years. Supporters we spoke with say students won't see a difference, beside the occasional mentor in the classroom and hopefully better teachers.
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