Dallas, TX (PRWEB) October 24, 2013
Just as the State of Texas has eliminated its massive merit pay program aimed at teachers, Uplift Education, North Texas’ largest charter school operator, has enhanced its own incentive pay program, investing more than $2 million in teacher and staff salaries over the next two years.
Uplift has already been providing annual bonuses to employees for reaching their growth goals, through a five-year, $7.5 million Department of Education Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grant. As a part of the grant, Uplift committed to implementing a performance-based salary increase program in order to make a lasting impact on teacher salaries and make the profession more sustainable.
Uplift CEO Yasmin Bhatia hopes the new program will encourage teachers to stay in the classroom and attract new teachers to the network.
“Our teachers and staff do the hard work of leading our scholars to academic growth year after year. We want to make sure they know their investment of time and energy is appreciated, especially when their scholars reach their growth goals. Giving our teachers and staff performance raises is an important way to let them know they are valued,” she said.
Uplift’s program is funded in part through the TIF grant and the general operating funds, which will see growth this year thanks to a 3.6% budget increase approved by the State of Texas in the last legislative session. Uplift will also rely on additional grant funding and philanthropic contributions to give performance-based raises to its approximately 500 teachers.
While the charter school network is giving performance raises only to teachers this year, the retooled program will include all staff and administrative personnel in the performance pay program in 2014 once their goals are fully tied to the compensation system.
“Since the beginning of our TIF-funded incentive program, we’ve included all employees. We believe that every person at Uplift contributes to scholar growth and deserves to be rewarded for their commitment to our scholars,” Ms. Bhatia said.
Uplift began to make the shift from one-time bonuses payouts to pay raises in 2012. The compensation task force that designed the program built metrics around student performance on several assessments the network administered, including End of Course exams, Advanced Placement tests, International Baccalaureate exams, STAAR and the Measure of Academic Performance (MAP), a national assessment that tracks student growth over time. The team also included classroom observation scores and evaluations that measure a range of teaching competencies. The program was then vetted through teacher groups before rolling it out to the entire network. The teachers provided feedback that helped the compensation team adjust the program in important ways.
“Our teachers were excited about being compensated for their success, but they also wanted a program that would encourage collaboration. Our teachers work very well together, so we wanted to motivate and encourage them to continue to do so,” Ms. Bhatia said.
In addition to the potential raises of up to 10%, Uplift’s performance pay program will include annual bonuses for academic teams that meet shared goals, such as when all eighth graders meet their math growth goals.
Ms. Bhatia also knows that when pay is tied to performance, employees must be supported so they can reach their own professional potential. Uplift collaborates with the Teaching Excellence certification and training program to help teachers become highly-qualified educators and future leaders. The network also provides instructional coaches to help new teachers provide the best lessons possible to their students.
“High performing teachers should have the opportunity to make as much as school administrators while staying in the classroom where our scholars need them. Our performance pay program is creating a supportive atmosphere where teachers can be well-compensated while helping our scholars reach their highest academic potential and prepare for college,” Ms. Bhatia said.
About Uplift Education
Uplift Education is a is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization operating a network of 28 tuition-free, college preparatory, public charter schools in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington and Irving on 13 campuses. Uplift Education schools provide a rigorous, multidisciplinary curriculum, with an emphasis on college preparation – 100% of graduates are accepted to college. Uplift Education educates 9,700 students, with the majority being low-income and minority students who will be the first in their family to attend college. Uplift schools are public schools -- students are selected by a blind lottery with no information collected on their past academic performance. For more information, visit uplifteducation.org or facebook.com/uplifteducation.
Mike Terry, Director of Communications
Sara Ortega, Public Relations Coordinator