The Guilford County, N.C., school district has joined with a coalition of local foundations to offer an incentive program designed to lure some top-flight math teachers to eight of the district’s low-performing high schools.
Though the 70,00-student district initially targeted six schools when it launched the effort this fall, a new $2 million grant from Action Greensboro—an initiative of six local foundations that began in 2001—will allow the program to expand to two additional schools.
Under the plan, called Mission Possible, teachers who respond to the call will receive a one-time $10,000 bonus to bring their salaries in line with those of recent mathematics graduates who took jobs in the private sector.
And if their students show a year and a half’s worth of academic growth in one school year, the teachers will be eligible to receive an additional $4,000 performance-based bonus. A typical first-year math teacher would get $32,710 prior to the $10,000 incentive.
The goal of the initiative will be not only to attract qualified candidates, but also to keep them in the schools through continuing financial incentives, mentoring, and professional development. If the program is successful, organizers say, it could be used as a model for how to use differentiated pay in certain subjects across the state.
The schools chosen for the pilot project are among those identified as low-performing by Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning, who oversees a 12-year-old school finance case in the state, Leandro v. North Carolina. Earlier this year, Judge Manning threatened to close some of the high schools if they did not meet certain achievement targets. And two of them, Dudley High School and Smith High School, are part of Mission Possible, said Chad Campbell, a spokesman for the district.
In all, $4 million, which also includes funds from the school district and the University of North Carolina system, has been committed to the project this school year.
“It is now painfully clear that if America doesn’t quickly wake up and get more people better educated, we are going to be a second-rate power before we know it, and the best jobs of the future will not be in North Carolina. They will be in India, China, or Singapore,” UNC system President Erskine Bowles said in a press release. “If our children and grandchildren are going to be equipped to compete in a knowledge-based global economy, we have got to do more to increase the pool of qualified teachers for our classrooms and attract the best and the brightest into teaching.”
The North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro—part of UNC—helped the district this summer by offering an accelerated teacher-training program for 12 college graduates who already had degrees in math, science, or engineering. Seven of them are already employed in the pilot high schools.
Next summer, all of the participating math teachers in the pilot schools will be part of an intensive professional-development program through the Math and Science Education Network, a joint project of North Carolina A&T and UNC-Greensboro.
The new math teachers in those schools will also be mentored by faculty members at the two institutions.
So far, Mr. Campbell said, response to the incentive plan has been positive. “This has done tremendous things for us attracting teachers,” he said.
A version of this article appeared in the September 20, 2006 edition of Education Week as N.C. District Lures New Math Teachers With $10,000 Bonus