NASHVILLE—The Tennessee Department of Education today announced a new package of financial incentives to help recruit and retain the most effective teachers to work in the state’s lowest performing schools.
Effective immediately, the department is offering funds to districts to pay $7,000 signing bonuses to every new teacher with a Level 5 rating on evaluation and, where available, value-added scores, who is brought into a Priority School for the 2013-14 school year. Signing bonuses will only apply to teachers who are new to the Priority School and are coming from a non-Priority School. By accepting the signing bonus, new teachers will commit to teach at least two years at the school.
Additionally, the department will provide money to districts to pay retention bonuses for every existing Level 5 teacher who decides to stay at his or her Priority School for the 2013-14 school year. Priority Schools are the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools in Tennessee, in terms of academic achievement. Currently, those schools are located in Memphis, as well as Davidson, Hamilton, Hardeman, and Knox counties.
“We know that teacher effectiveness is the most important school-based factor impacting student achievement,” said Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman. “Our goal is to get more of our most effective educators into our struggling schools. We value our teachers, and this is a great opportunity for us to show it.”
Both the signing and retention bonuses will be funded with federal School Improvement funds. Every Priority School in the state is eligible for this program. Only teachers who have earned a 5 – the top score on Tennessee’s evaluation and value-added systems – will be eligible to receive the bonuses. The extra pay will be in addition to the teacher incentives that already exist at the local level. Eligible schools and their respective districts will continue to make teacher hiring decisions.
“We believe that these bonuses will provide district and school leaders with greater leverage in this year’s recruiting and retention cycle,” said Mike Koprowski, who will oversee the program for the department’s school improvement division.