Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) have implemented a performance-based compensation system (PBCS) in 11 of the district’s high-need schools. The PBCS rewards educators, at differentiated levels, who demonstrate effectiveness by improving student achievement and other measures. OCPS also embeds science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) into the main streams of science, technology, reading/literacy, arts, mathematics, and social studies. Using a tiered roll out, the district aligns curriculum materials and forges community partnerships to allow all students access to high-quality STEM curricula. Eleven schools within OCPS participate in the grant— 1 Title I high school and its 10 feeder Title I elementary and middle schools. The participating schools range from 20 to 60 percent English learners, and eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch ranges from 79 to 94 percent. In addition, all schools have significant percentages of students who score below grade level on state assessments in reading, mathematics, and science.
Orange County's project has one overall goal: to increase student achievement in the targeted high-need schools through developing and implementing a comprehensive PBCS for teachers, principals, and other personnel.
The district will evaluate progress toward project objectives annually through student achievement results, teacher surveys, student growth data, and other program documentation.
Year 1 was a planning year for the OCPS TIF STEM grant. The first major activity was meeting with all of the principals of the 11 participating schools to give an overview. Next, two representatives from each school formed a committee to serve as an advisory board. This committee made decisions and recommendations for the policies and procedures that would need to be in place. The committee held numerous meetings with the department directors involved in the grant, and they began to hire the necessary coaches. Several coaches were written into the grant: Professional Development, Advanced Studies, Marzano, along with Science, and Math (SaM) coaches. These coaches helped the schools implement the STEM activities. OCPS developed assessments for the untested subject areas and field tested them in Year 2.
Implementation of grant activities began in Year 2. School visits to talk to staff and give an overview of the grant and compensation system continued. OCPS hired coaches who worked closely with the schools to implement STEM activities and design challenges. Teachers received professional development on the Marzano Evaluation System and on STEM-related topics. OCPS continued to develop and field test assessments. OCPS began recruiting business professionals in the STEM areas who are looking for a career change to become educators. The STEM professionals provided real-world information and content while receiving mentoring and pedagogy from master teachers. OCPS also developed criteria in preparation for selecting master teachers.
The TIF STEM coaches have accomplished much during Year 3. They supporting the schools through Marzano training, the implementation of Interdisciplinary Days, AVID and Professional Development Services. The Career Lattice was developed and finalized by a committee of which 87 percent were union members. The administrators and union approved of the final document. Writing teams from every school in the grant met during the summer to write lessons for the Interdisciplinary Days that were held every quarter. Paraprofessional training on Saturdays was again a big hit, with a variety of subjects and topics to help them at their schools. The new assessments being implemented are the locally constructed assessments, Common Final Assessments, which were given at the end of the year.
Great things are expected in Year 4! The Career Lattice will have its first year of implementation. The committee will meet and revise the lattice as necessary. The writing teams for the Interdisciplinary Days that were formed last summer will meet quarterly to write more Engineering Design Challenges, Model Eliciting Activities, and Problem-Based Learning lessons for Pre-K thru 12th grade. Professional development will consist of more Marzano training, STEM integration, Kagan Strategies, AVID, and much more with the goal of implementing more STEM into the curriculum and increasing student achievement.
The PBCS rewards teachers for being Effective and Highly Effective. Learning gains are also taken into consideration. The district and Title I supply the funds for these performance measures, and TIF supplies the funds for the multiplier for the STEM teachers. The multiplier (if the teacher is eligible) can double the bonus the teacher receives according to his/her evaluation and student learning gains in the STEM subjects. The payout is not complete, but to date OCPS has paid:
Paraprofessionals are paid a stipend of $13.50 per hour for attending training paid through TIF: $31,250; Teachers: $1,832,537 ($153,745 is multiplier); Administrators: $91,975.