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Educators consider grants for teacher bonuses

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WINSTON-SALEM--Five Winston-Salem Forsyth County high schools could receive a federal grant to give teachers incentive pay.
 
The board of education discussed applying for the $12 million dollar grant, Friday night. Test scores reflect how well students perform in school and under some programs, how much money teachers make.
 
It's intended to help recruit and keep great educators in high-need schools. "It may be a very low performing student, it may be a very high performing student but the expectant is that they grow," said Tripp Jeffers, a history teacher.

Evaluations will measure the student's growth over time and reward those teachers who help make improvements happen.

"The school and the team, and the department can lift those students to a higher level of performance," said Jeffers.
 
Superintendent Don Martin says there are a few flaws. "The new wrinkle in this grant is that you must use student performance as actually part of your evaluation plan in order to be hired and actually be retained," said Martin.
 
This means if teachers fail to perform they not only could lose their bonus, but also their job. On the other hand, educators can also help earn rewards for the rest of the school.  "Then everyone, everyone in the school will benefit from that," said Martin.
 
Some teachers are concerned about evaluating factors they can't control. "It's very difficult to bring a student to a higher academic performance when they've been absent for half the year," said Jeffers. "So if there's anyway that we can tweak some of this data to exclude those anomalies, then I think that would be a better indicator."
 
Initially, full bonuses of up to $11,500 are only available to teachers in specific math, science and english courses. The school board will decide Tuesday night whether or not to pursue the grant.

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