Thursday, August 16, 2001

Money rewards better schools

City system keeps its end of bargain

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The staff in five Cincinnati Public Schools will split about $800,000 in rewards for a job well done last year.

        Hughes Center, Parham Elementary, the School for Creative and Performing Arts, Withrow High School and Westwood Elementary will receive incentive awards from the school district under an accountability plan that ranks nearly every CPS school.

    Schools in Cincinnati Public Schools are ranked in four categories — achievement, improvement, intervention and redesign.
    The rankings are based on students' proficiency test scores, student and staff attendance, graduation rates and other criteria from the previous school year.
    These are the 2001-02 accountability rankings:

    Achievement: Aiken, Dater Montessori (formerly Carson Montessori), Clark Montessori, College Hill, Dater High School, Eastwood Paideia, Fairview German Bilingual, Hughes Center, Jacobs Center, Kilgour, Midway, North Avondale, Parham, the School for Creative and Performing Arts, Walnut Hills, Westwood, Winton Montessori.

    Improvement: Academy of World Languages, Burton (opening this year as a redesigned school) Carthage Paideia, Cheviot, Clifton, Covedale, Crest Hills Year-Round, Douglass, Gamble, Heinold, Hoffman, Linwood, Mount Washington, Oyler, Pleasant Hill, Roberts Paideia, Sands Montessori, Schiel, Swifton Primary (now closed), Western Hills, Withrow, Woodford Paideia.

    Intervention: Bond Hill, Bramble, Eastern Hills, Hartwell, Hyde Park, Losantiville, McKinley, Mount Airy, John P. Parker, Pleasant Ridge, Roselawn Condon, Sayler Park, Shroder Paideia, Silverton, Whittier, Woodward.

    Redesign: Chase, Heberle, North Fairmount, Rothenberg, South Avondale, Taft Elementary, Vine, Washington Park, Windsor.

    Exempted schools: Bloom Back-On-Track Accelerated Middle School, Carson Neighborhood, Kirby Road, Millvale, Porter/Hays/Washburn, Project Succeed, Quebec Heights, Schwab and Winton Place.
        “We think (these) schools represent the hope and promise and demonstration that student achievement can be raised,” Superintendent Steven Adamowski said.

        The district Wednesday announced the rankings under its accountability plan, launched in 1998, which aims to improve low-performing schools while rewarding high achievers.

        The rating system places schools in four categories — achievement, improvement, intervention and redesign — based on students' proficiency tests scores, dropout rates, student and staff attendance, and other markers.

        Each school strives to improve 5 percent on targets the district set the year before. Schools must meet at least half of their targets to move up a category.

        Schools in the top category receive a blue-and-gold flag. Those in the school intervention category are sent visiting-teacher teams to help them improve. Those in the school redesign category are slated for complete overhauls with new staff and a new mission. Schools that receive monetary incentives met 75 percent or more of their targets.

        In all, nine schools are in the redesign category.

        Taft High — named as a redesign school last year — will open this year with a new academic focus to include an Internet technology institute.

        Rockdale, Burton and Central Fairmount elementaries open this year with new staffs and new academic missions. Staff members from redesign schools were able to apply for jobs at the same school or other schools within the district.

        Sixteen schools are in the intervention category, 22 are in the improvement category and 17 are in the achievement category.

        The district this year had the largest number of schools meet the highest ranking or move up a ranking, Dr. Adamowski said.

        Every principal and teacher at the five incentive schools receives a $1,400 bonus. Every staff member at those schools receives a $700 bonus.

        Parham Elementary was the only school to receive the incentive award two years in a row.

        The honor was a special one for the students in that school — whom Dr. Adamowski labeled the “Comeback Kids” — because it was one of the first to be in the redesign category.

        Before the school was redesigned, many students were failing, said Principal Sharon Johnson.

        The school reopened in 1999-2000.

        “Now the majority of our kids are reading one to two grades above their level,” Ms. Johnson said.

        “It's rewarding.”


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