School & District Management

Project to Seek High-Poverty Schools’ Best Practices

By Bess Keller — November 28, 2006 3 min read

Jon Schnur favors rewarding educators in carefully thought-out ways for significantly increasing their students’ performance.

But as the co-founder and chief executive officer of the group New Leaders for New Schools, he saw a new federal grant program designed to steer schools in that direction as the opportunity to do much more.

Jon Schnur

As a result, his organization, which recruits and trains promising leaders to be principals, proposed a national project that would launch an entirely new, largely Web-based tool for sharing the best educational practices of urban schools. Schoolwide awards would be paid for dramatic increases in achievement, but educators would also earn bonuses for helping their peers learn.

When the first round of grants from the federal Teacher Incentive Fund was announced in recent weeks, Mr. Schnur’s group and its partners won four of the 16 awards, expected to total more than $71 million over five years. The New York City-based New Leaders was the only grantee that was not a state education department or a school district, though three of its partners are the District of Columbia, Memphis, Tenn., and Denver school systems. (“More Teacher-Incentive Grants Trickle Out,” Nov. 8, 2006.)

Among the project’s goals is to give both charter and regular public schools the chance to contribute to the archive of effective practices. The second-largest of the three U.S. Department of Education grants—nearly $5 million in the first year and a projected $20.8 million over five years—went to New Leaders and a coalition of charter schools and charter school networks.

Dubbed the Effective Practice Incentive Fund, the project wants first to identify high-poverty schools in the new network that are doing well or rapidly improving.

The initial criteria for inclusion are to be devised by Mathematica Policy Research, a research and evaluation firm, and the New Schools Venture Fund, which invests in charter schools, a process that will be vetted by the three partner school districts. But final selection of no more than 10 percent of the participating schools will also depend on visits from “effective-practice teams.” Teachers in schools making the list would get a bonus for the year in the range of $500 to $1,000, while principals might get as much as $15,000, Mr. Schnur said.

At the same time, criteria will be set for outstanding individual teachers, who must also pass the test of observation by the teams. Such teachers, no more than a handful in a school, would receive rewards of at least $5,000 in exchange for opening up their classrooms and sharing their expertise. Video of their teaching and documents related to their practice would be compiled on the Web, where they would be offered free to educators nationwide. The outstanding teachers might also expect in-person visits from educators wanting to learn from them or be part of teams that would visit schools needing help.

Blending Dimensions

The idea, said the 40-year-old Mr. Schnur, a former policy adviser to President Clinton, is to give incentives “to people who have demonstrated results and are taking on leadership roles by sharing their practice online and in person with other educators. It’s a blend of those two dimensions.”

It might even be possible, he said, to reward teachers further on the number of times their Web materials are viewed and the number of positive ratings the materials get.

Money from the Teacher Incentive Fund grants will pay for more than two-thirds of the projected $90 million initial cost of the project, according to Mr. Schnur. About half the remaining $20 million or so will be contributed by the school districts and charter schools and about half by private philanthropies. Some $8.7 million in philanthropic money remains to be raised, he added.

Jacquelyn Davis, who directs New Leaders in Washington, said she believes the project will be a boost for the District of Columbia’s teachers. “The grant is a stamp of approval at some level that there are really good people in these communities doing really good work … and if you don’t highlight what they are doing, you won’t keep them,” she said.

A version of this article appeared in the November 29, 2006 edition of Education Week as Project to Seek High-Poverty Schools’ Best Practices

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion Leaders, Your Communication Plan Needs to Start With Your Staff
Staff members are the point of contact for thousands of interactions with the public each day. They can’t be the last to know of changes.
Gladys I. Cruz
2 min read
A staff meeting around a table.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images
School & District Management L.A. Unified to Require Testing of Students, Staff Regardless of Vaccination Status
The policy change in the nation's second-largest school district comes amid rising coronavirus cases, largely blamed on the Delta variant.
Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times
4 min read
L.A. schools interim Sup Megan K. Reilly visits Fairfax High School's "Field Day" event to launch the Ready Set volunteer recruitment campaign to highlight the nationwide need for mentors and tutors, to prepare the country's public education students for the upcoming school year. The event coincides with National Summer Learning Week, where U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona is highlighting the importance of re-engaging students and building excitement around returning to in-person learning this fall. high school, with interim LAUSD superintendent and others. Fairfax High School on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA.
In this July 14, 2021, photo, Los Angeles Unified School District interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly speaks at an event at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. Reilly announced a new district policy Thursday requiring all students and employees of the Los Angeles school district to take weekly coronavirus tests regardless of their vaccination status.
Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via TNS
School & District Management Why School Boards Are Now Hot Spots for Nasty Politics
Nationalized politics, shifts in local news coverage, and the rise of social media are turning school board meetings into slug fests.
11 min read
Collage of people yelling, praying, and masked in a board room.
Collage by Gina Tomko/Education Week and Getty Images
School & District Management Opinion The Six Leadership Lessons I Learned From the Pandemic
These guiding principles can help leaders prepare for another challenging year—and any future crises to come.
David Vroonland
3 min read
A hand about to touch a phone.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images