State to Reward Higher Student Achievement

Monetary rewards for improved test results should be received beginning in mid-March by a majority of teachers and classified personnel assigned to schools in the Long Beach Unified School District last year. Cash rewards from the state are expected to be awarded to school staffs at up to 60 percent of the schools in the Long Beach Unified School District where state test scores have reached or surpassed their targets. "This is a well deserved recognition for what teachers and support staff accomplished during the 1999-2000 school year," said Christopher Steinhauser, deputy superintendent. Exactly how much each employee will receive has not yet been determined, but it could be several hundred dollars. Originally the state had planned to award $800 Schoolsite Employee Performance bonuses to all qualifying school staff. A larger than expected number of schools reaching their overall API targets means that state funds allocated for these bonuses will be divided among more recipients. Half will go to the school, half to the employees. The Governor's Performance Award, which will be presented to each school that attained its overall and subgroup API target, will also be reduced from the original $150 per student to perhaps half that amount. These funds will be used by schools for educational purposes. The most lucrative of the three state rewards are $25,000, $10,000 or $5,000 bonuses to be awarded to the certificated staff at schools with the largest achievement gains. In order to be considered, schools must test a high percentage of students and attain at least twice their target API overall and for each subgroup. Top schools are then ranked within each grade segment: elementary, middle schools and high schools. Proportional awards will be given to each segment. It is possible for a K-8 school to have its elementary grades compete with elementary schools and its 6-8 grades compete separately with other middle schools. The top prize winners are expected to be announced in March. Whittier Elementary School currently ranks 17th among all schools in the state in API gains and stands a good chance of being among the top state winners. Other schools here with very large API increases may also be in contention for the generous awards.