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Benwood Initiative
Tennessee : Benwood Initiative -Local Level
Program Statistics
Name and Level Benwood Initiative

There are nine Hamilton County schools in Chattanooga Tennessee that participate in the Benwood Initiative Program.

Source: Lessons Learned: A Report on the Benwood Initiative

Status Benwood Initiative

The Benwood Initiative is an ongoing program that began in 2000.

Source: Lessons Learned: A Report on the Benwood Initiative

Program Description Benwood Initiative

In 2000, the Tennessee Institute of Public Policy issued a report that ranked the performance of all 1258 elementary and middle schools in the state. Of the 20 lowest-performing elementary schools, nine were in Hamilton County. No other school district in the state had more than four schools in the bottom 20.

This information spurred a shocked and determined reaction from three key organizations in Hamilton County: the Benwood Foundation, the Public Education Foundation (PEF), and the Hamilton County Department of Education (HCDE). The three forged an alliance that created what would come to be known as the Benwood Initiative. The Benwood Foundation contributed $5 million, the PEF contributed $2.5 million, and HCDE contributed a great deal of strong leadership to turn these schools around.

All nine of these low-performing schools were urban, poor, and largely minority. Teacher turnover rates were high; the faculties were made up of young, inexperienced, and, in some cases, marginal teachers. Student performance was abysmal. On average, only 12% of third-graders in these schools could read at or above grade level.

The partners of the Benwood Initiative decided to focus their efforts on student literacy, with a primary strategy of building knowledge and skills among educators. They tackled district-level structures and policies that impeded reform and crafted a reform framework that continues to provide effective professional development for teachers and principals. The overarching goal was to have every third grader reading at or above grade level within five years.

Source: Lessons Learned: A Report on the Benwood Initiative

Other Programs No other programs were researched.
Hard-to-Staff, High Needs, At-Risk Component
Program Target Components
  • Hard to staff subject
  • Hard to staff school
  • High poverty / high needs schools
  • Urban Schools
  • Description of Component The Benwood Initiative specifically targets nine low performing, urban, poor, largely minority and hard-to-staff schools.
    Incentive Structure
    Compensation Structure Benwood Initiative

    HOUSING INCENTIVE
    Benwood schools teachers have the opportunity to buy homes in nine central downtown neighborhoods through the Chattanooga Teacher Next Door Program. Teachers in the identified schools can receive a loan of up to $10,000. If they live in the homes for five years, the loan will be forgiven. A second mortgage of up to $20,000 can be applied to the down payment and closing costs.

    RETENTION BONUS
    An annual salary bonus of $5,000 for three years will be given to existing teachers with records of high performance. (A three-year TVAAS average of 115+ or a recommendation by the K-3 committee is required.)

    RECRUITMENT BONUS
    An annual salary bonus of $5,000 for three years will be given to recruited teachers with records of high performance. (A three-year TVAAS average of 115+ or a recommendation by the K-3 committee is required.)

    SALARY BONUS
    Principals at Benwood schools whose students achieve high performance are eligible for salary bonuses of $10,000. (Average TVAAS scores must meet or exceed 115.)

    TEAM BONUS
    If any of the high priority schools achieves an average minimum TVAAS score of 115, each teaching professional will receive a salary bonus of $1,000. If the schools achieve an average TVAAS score of 120 or higher, each teaching professional will receive a salary bonus of $2,000.

    Source: Lessons Learned: A Report on the Benwood Initiative

    Incentives Benwood Initiative

    Types of Compensations Include:

    • Housing Incentives,
    • Recruitment Bonuses,
    • Retention Bonuses and
    • Salary Bonuses.

    Source: Lessons Learned: A Report on the Benwood Initiative

    Incentive Recipients Benwood Initiative

    Highly Qualified teachers are actively recruited locally and from across the nation.

    Retention bonuses are for existing teachers with records of high performance. (A three-year TVAAS average of 115+ or a recommendation by the K-3 committee is required.)

    There is also a recruitment bonus for recruited teachers with records of high performance. (A three-year TVAAS average of 115+ or a recommendation by the K-3 committee is required.)

    There is a salary bonus for principals at Benwood schools whose students achieve high performance. (Average TVAAS scores must meet or exceed 115.)

    A Team Bonus is allocated if any of the high priority schools achieves an average minimum TVAAS score of 115 (each teaching professional will receive a salary bonus of $1,000), or if the schools achieve an average TVAAS score of 120 or higher (each teaching professional will receive a salary bonus of $2,000).

    Source: Lessons Learned: A Report on the Benwood Initiative

    Methods of Evaluation
    Method of Evaluation Benwood Initiative

    RETENTION BONUS
    Teachers are evaluated through TVAAS scores and can receive a recommendation by the K-3 committee.

    RECRUITMENT BONUS
    Teachers are evaluated through TVAAS scores and can receive a recommendation by the K-3 committee.

    SALARY BONUS
    Principals at Benwood schools are evaluated through their average school TVAAS scores.

    TEAM BONUS
    High priority schools are evaluated by whether or not they meet (or exceed) certain TVAAS scores.

    Source: Lessons Learned: A Report on the Benwood Initiative

    Stakeholder Involvement
    Teachers and Teacher's Unions Benwood Initiative

    The Hamilton County Education Association (HCEA) went against typical union positions and agreed to allow faculty at struggling schools to be reconstituted, and bonuses to be paid to teachers to attract and retain teachers at those schools. Most importantly, The union agreed to change the hiring process to eliminate a seniority-driven domino effect which often left the urban schools with un-staffed classrooms on the first day of school.

    Source: Lessons Learned: A Report on the Benwood Initiative

    Other Stakeholders Benwood Initiative

    Additional stakeholders include the Benwood Foundation, the Public Education Foundation(PEF), Hamilton County Department of Education (HCDE) and school principals.

    Source: Lessons Learned: A Report on the Benwood Initiative

    Program Funding
    Cost Benwood Initiative

    A total of $7.5 million in grants was invested in the program in 2001.

    Source: Lessons Learned: A Report on the Benwood Initiative

    Funding Benwood Initiative

    In 2001 a $5 million grant from the Benwood Foundation and a $2.5 million grant from the Public Education Foundation (PEF) provided resources to the following elementary schools: Clifton Hills, Calvin Donaldson, East Lake, East Side, Hardy, Hillcrest, Howard, Orchard Knob, Woodmore.

    The focus is on raising student achievement in these nine “high priority” elementary schools, and attracting quality teachers to these urban schools.

    Since then, the Hamilton County Commission dramatically increased funding for schools based on the progress of the school system since merger.

    Source: Lessons Learned: A Report on the Benwood Initiative

    Results and Outcomes
    Results and Outcomes Benwood Initiative

    Students in the Benwood schools are making significant gains in achievement. The schools have become dynamic institutions whose teachers report high levels of job satisfaction. Teacher turnover rates have dropped, and principals receive many applicants for every job opening.

    The percentage of third graders scoring proficient or advanced in reading jumped from 53% in 2003 to 74% in 2005. One school’s third-grade reading scores rose from 41% proficient or advanced in 2003 to 84% in 2005. Another’s rose from 54% to 88% during the same period. The district average rose from 77% in 2003 to 89% in 2005.

    For more information on the outcomes and results, see the Chattanooga Tennessee Public Education Foundation Report, Lessons Learned, A Report on the Benwood Initiative.

    Source: Lessons Learned: A Report on the Benwood Initiative




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