It was announced today that the district has won a $12.5M Teacher Incentive Grant. This is money to be used for staffing at 34 high-need schools over 5 years. There are a lot of interesting things in both the feds' press release and the district's. Let's start with the district's PR.
The five- year TIF program seeks to strengthen the education profession by rewarding excellence, attracting teachers and principals to high-need and hard to staff areas, and providing all teachers and principals with the feedback and support they need to succeed.
“I want to thank our teachers and leaders for their work to reach this historic agreement, which was a key factor that evaluators considered when they awarded this grant to our district.” (Dr. Goodloe-Johnson)
Glenn Bafia, Seattle Education Association’s (SEA) Executive Director, said that “SEA is excited
that portions of our negotiated collective bargaining agreement will be funded thanks to this TIF grant. We all worked very hard to get this agreement, knowing that we would have to work together to secure the needed funding.
What is weird is that they are saying this is part of a larger $21M project and no one I have spoken to can figure out where that number comes from. It isn't the levy number which is $19M for teacher evaluation processes.
From the district:
Over five years, this project will directly impact more than 800 teachers and 54 principals and
assistant principals; and most importantly, more than 16,000 students who will be led by
motivated, highly effective teachers and principals across 34 target high-need schools. After the project period, SPS will sustain the momentum enabled by this TIF grant to reach all schools in our K-12 system, the largest in the state, and set an example for school systems throughout the rest of the state.
"...will sustain the momentum..." - how? They don't even buy textbooks in a timely fashion. They don't even have a line item in the district budget for textbooks. So how will they find the money to sustain this effort? Not saying they shouldn't but where's the reality check? (I have to smile a bit because I'm sure it isn't often that SPS is an "example" for other school districts.)
And fyi, that's 34 schools out of 88 schools.
Here's the really weird one (and don't be drinking anything when you do this because you might do a spit take) from the feds (bold mine):
Over the last three years, Seattle has moved from a collection of independent schools operating with little direction and no accountability, to one with clear system-wide performance goals, aligned supports to help schools and staff meet expectations, and differentiated interventions based on performance. This work to design and implement a performance management system for the district, schools and central office departments provides SPS with the foundation needed to be successful with the next phase of work: developing a similar system for our most impactful employees - teachers and principals.
What's funny is how SPS is now phrasing it:
Over the last three years, Seattle has taken significant steps toward becoming a coherent
system where all schools and central staff work together to achieve clear goals for student
So we were a hodge-podge of schools just operating independently before Saint Maria came. Too bad the feds don't know that she doesn't know how to manage a district given what the State Auditor has said about her work and the work of her management team.
What this grant will do:
- Recruit: Incentives for recruiting principals and teachers to high-need, low-performing schools;
- Mentor: Mentoring programs for teachers and principals;
- Support: Teacher and principal professional development aligned to new evaluation;
- Evaluate and Assess: System includes observations and student growth measures for evaluating teachers and student achievement goals for principals; and
- Recognize/Reward and Retain: Career ladder opportunities for teachers; incentives for teachers in high-need, low-performing schools; and principal incentive pay for high performers.
From the Big Promises Division:
The ultimate outcome of the proposed work will be a dramatic improvement in student
achievement. Specifically, SPS expects that over the next five years the district will see a 15
percentage point decline in the number of schools performing in the lowest two segments of our quantitative performance framework.
So reading that I thought it was a 15% improvement for those schools and it's a 15% decline in the NUMBER of schools performing in the lowest two segments. Oh.
From the feds info:
Seattle Public Schools' state of readiness meets all three absolute competition priorities, but not all competitive preferences and core PBCS elements. Much of what is outlined in this proposal is currently being or will need to be bargained with our union partners. Therefore, SPS proposes taking one year to plan, further refine, and engage stakeholders in the proposed work plan. The district is committed to good faith bargaining and continuous improvement - as a result, we are confident of a productive planning year. Over the subsequent four years, SPS will roll-out new teacher and principal evaluations that include student growth expectations and offer recognition and rewards for high performers.
Engage stakeholders - again, something they told the feds but neglected to put in the press release. I think this paragraph is pretty darn important (and the SPS is two pages and still not there). Interesting what they told the feds but not the Seattle community.
Applicants were also required to demonstrate a high level of local educator support and
involvement and a plan for financial sustainability after the 5 year grant award period. Applicants received additional points for using value added measures, attracting effective teachers in hard to staff subject or specialty areas, and for being a first-time applicant.