CPS looking to offer incentives to principals

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Monday that Chicago Public Schools will be the first city school system in the country to provide principals with merit pay through a $5 million fund in an effort to recognize and reward leaders for having best performing scho

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Monday that Chicago Public Schools will be the first city school system in the country to provide principals with merit pay through a $5 million fund in an effort to recognize and reward leaders for having best performing schools.

Once implemented, it is expected to be the most comprehensive program of its kind, Emanuel said. As part of the initiative, CPS is drafting performance metrics in the coming weeks by which to gauge principal performance.

“Our end goal is to improve student achievement by giving our new principals the tools they need to succeed and supporting our existing principals in ways that help them improve student performance year after year,” Emanuel said at Genevieve Melody Elementary School in the West Garfield Park neighborhood.

Funding for the principal merit pay system will be secured from the local philanthropic community. Incentives met could result in some principals being compensated $5,000 to $10,000 a year, officials said.

Emanuel, along with Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, said the principal performance contract would be based on student growth toward becoming college and career ready upon graduation.

"It keeps highly effective people in the job versus them leaving the profession," Brizard said at the press conference. The best gift we can give a child is a great teacher and the best gift we can give a teacher is a great principal.”

Brizard had been meeting with principals this summer as part of a listening tour to gather input and insight from them around the performance contract and other issues impacting their schools. Over the next month, a new principal performance contract will be developed in consultation with the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association.

However, Clarice Berry, president of the Chicago Principals Association, said the organization would not be in a hurry to back the mayor’s proposal.

“We are going to take a look at this,” said Berry who was displease that she wasn’t granted the opportunity to view the plan before the press conference. “I’m going to wait and see. We are not endorsing anything at the moment.”

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis dismissed Emanuel’s desire to offer merit pay to educators saying the incentive does not work.

“The research is conclusive – merit pay does not work and can have troubling side effects – cheating, narrowing of curriculum and competition between teachers where collaboration is needed,” Lewis said in a statement. “Independent studies, including in Chicago, show that teaching to the test does not improve student achievement.”

Lewis mentioned an investigation of the Atlanta school system that found that pressure to meet testing targets led to widespread cheating.

“I know there are so many components that go into making a good school and making children successful,” Berry said.

Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender

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