A Charleston nonprofit that has been at the forefront of a pay-for-performance pilot program for teachers is redirecting those funds into an after-school tutoring initiative.
Some critics of the practice say the decision shows that the controversial incentive pay efforts aren't an effective use of money, and they question why Charleston County School District leaders think they will work better in other district schools.
"You wouldn't cut what was working," said Kent Riddle, a kindergarten teacher and chairman of the Charleston Teacher Alliance, of the nonprofit's decision. "You'd cut the things that were the least effective. They clearly think other things are more effective."
Charleston County Schools Superintendent Nancy McGinley said that program isn't the same design as the one being considered by the district, and that officials will be thoughtful as they move forward.
The Charleston Promise Neighborhood is a nonprofit organization that aims to break the cycle of poverty in a 5.6-square-mile area of Charleston County. Inspired by the Harlem Children's Zone in New York, the group has targeted four schools and put an emphasis on boosting education, as well as other social and health services. It's funded through a combination of public and private dollars.
The nonprofit has spent more than $600,000 since 2011 to ensure that teachers have the skills and motivation to be effective. More than $200,000 of that money has gone directly toward teacher incentive pay, which was offered to teachers and staff based on a number of factors, such as classroom evaluations, self-evaluations, individual student growth and the school's growth overall.
"(Charleston Promise Neighborhood) makes decisions annually to ensure resources are allocated to areas where desired results have been achieved," according to a statement from the organization to The Post and Courier. "Since the teacher incentive initiative was not achieving desired results at the pace needed to ensure (Charleston Promise Neighborhood Learning Community) students were positioned to meet the Vision 2016 goals, funds will be repurposed."
Sherrie Snipes-Williams, chief executive officer of the nonprofit, said the new tutoring program started Tuesday, and it will serve about 250 students who need extra academic help for up to three hours each day for three or four days a week.
The former incentive-pay funds will go to compensate teachers for their time after school. Principals said they supported this after-school program because they haven't had this kind of opportunity available to students, Snipes-Williams said.
"We're in alignment with the school district," she said. "We just feel that extended learning opportunities through tutoring will provide that fast track for students."
Although it won't continue the incentive-pay program, the Charleston Promise Neighborhood plans to continue investing in teachers through offering online training programs, providing materials and supplies, and hiring literacy and math coaches for teachers.
Reach Diette Courrégé Casey at @Diette on Twitter or 843-937-5546.