Berkeley schools and staff may also receive cash awards
The 19 teachers at Cragmont Elementary School are each eligible for up to a $25,000 bonus because of the school’s improvement in the state’s academic performance index.
And teachers, custodians, librarians and secretaries at all other Berkeley schools — with the exception of Berkeley High School, Longfellow Middle School and Washington Elementary School — will be eligible for bonuses of up to $750 each at the end of this month.
The schools themselves will be eligible for up to a $68 to $150 per student bonus, which for a 400-student school, could mean the bonus could range from $27,200 to $60,000 per school.
That money could be used for additional text books, staff development and extra tutors, according to Karen Sarlo, Berkeley Unified School District spokesperson.
More than $677 million in teacher, staff and school incentives will be divvied up this year as a result of three award programs passed by the state legislature in 1999 and 2000. The California Department of Education released academic performance numbers for every state school last week, which will be used to determine which schools met certain requirements to receive the money. The API is based on results of the Stanford-9 achievement test in conjunction with the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program.
Right now, spokesperson Kathleen Sieborn said the department is in the midst of calculating how many schools qualify for the bonuses and how much they should recieve.
All Berkeley schools scored higher on the API than last year, but Sarlo said Cragmont is a frontrunner for the Certified Staff Performance money because of its vast improvement. This year, Cragmont scored a 731 out of 1,000. Last year, Cragmont scored a 607 out of 1,000. The teacher bonus ranges from $5,000 to $25,000 and may not be awarded until next Fall since teachers must fill out an applicaton for the money beginning in March, said Cragmont Principal Jason Lustig. All other money will be distributed before the end of this school year and as soon as February 20, Sieborn said.
“The intent of the award is to reward sites and staff for academic achievement,” she said.
Although Lustig said he is pleased that his staff may recieve the bonuses, he is also cautious. Because all teachers are working hard, Lustig said it may have made more sense to make the amount smaller so more teachers could benefit.
“Certainly people are aware that it’s there and they are excited about it,” he said. “But there are always issues because everyone is working hard and only certain people are being awarded quite significantly. It may encourage cheating, teaching students just for the test and it may create tension between the schools.”
But overall, Lustig said the API is a brilliant idea because it provides a tangible score that both parents and the public can understand.
“It motivates kids and it shows meaningful change. This is awesome. We never had things like this before,” he said. “I just hope that they don’t get wrapped up in the lingo and start basing it more on the Sat-9.”
Sarlo also hopes that the API will soon start reflecting student work all year long.
“There are arguments about the whole process for and against,” she said. “But it’s really nice for the teachers to rewarded for the work that they do.”