ECMS teachers offered bonus

Published 8:52 pm Thursday, January 26, 2006

By By Adam Prestridge
Escambia County Middle School first-year principal Zickeyous Byrd is on a mission.
That mission is to get his school out of the red.
Byrd's latest attempt to increase Alabama Reading and Math Test (ARMT) scores is by implementing a teacher bonus incentive that he his asking local businesses and individuals to help sponsor.
"We have made some drastic improvements and our testing data shows," Byrd said. "We had more students on the honor roll last semester than we have had in a long time. The students are giving it their all. The parents are also giving us their support."
Teacher Incentive Programs are not new to Alabama. The Mobile County Public Schools, where Byrd worked last year, launched a massive Transformation Plan that included transforming five of its lowest performing schools and rewarding teachers with bonuses up to $40,000 over a five-year period.
Byrd shared the improvements for the Mobile County schools to Leadership Atmore in a presentation on Jan. 19 during the class' education session. He stated that the Mobile County plan is clear. Teachers receive a $4,000 sign on bonus and another $4,000 end of the year bonus if they meet certain goals. Those goals include increasing achievement levels of low performing students. To prepare those teachers for the task, teachers received intensive training on how to move those students academically. Training such as the training the teachers received in Mobile County does not happen in college courses. "Colleges can't teach you and they don't teach you how to deal with some of the problems we are faced with each day," Byrd said. " I am proud to be in Escambia County. The problems we face in Escambia County are much easier than some of the problems I faced in Mobile County.
Byrd met with his teachers during a faculty meeting Monday afternoon and announced his initiative plan, which includes $250 bonus' to teachers per special education student they help meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Teachers who participate are limited to helping two students and are eligible for a $500 bonus at the end of the year. The program includes working with students after school, on Saturdays and mentoring to help them do whatever it takes academically to meet AYP.
"They (teachers) were very, very happy about it," Byrd said. "They like it and they have already been talking with the students that they will be working with."
The goal of the teachers is to move these students academically by at least 1 level or 1 stanine on the standardized tests that will take place in April.
Byrd is requesting donations to help pay for the teachers' bonus'. The Atmore Advance was the first sponsor to step up to the plate and sponsor the program.
"I challenge other businesses and individuals in the area to do the same as the Atmore Advance," Byrd said. "The children are our future and will make up the workforce in less than 10 years."
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) uses the term AYP to describe whether a school or school system has met its annual accountability goals. AYP is "what the school or school system did this year." It is the goal of NCLB that all public school students perform at the "proficient" level in reading and mathematics by the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
The subgroups that make up ECMS include, all students, special education students, American Indian, Asian, black, Hispanic, white limited English proficient, free/reduced meals. NCLB tells us that a certain percentage of these students must be proficient from year to year. The ultimate goal is for all of the students to be proficient by the 2014-2015 school year.
"Escambia County Middle School is the center of this community," Byrd said. "It is important for us to have a successful school for our students. I am determined that we will have a successful school by whatever means necessary."

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