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Corpus Christi ISD honors “recognized”, “exemplary” and “master” teachers

In World
May 20, 2024

Fourteen teachers gathered in the Cullen Place Elementary School library Thursday morning, invited to receive a gift and recognition for their efforts at improving student growth.

The teachers earned a designation through the Texas’s Teacher Incentive Allotment program, which allows school districts to create a system for the highest performing teachers to receive pay boosts based on student growth.

“Every day, you’re working very hard to influence that instruction, praying that (students) get it and that they absorb everything that you’re pouring into them,” Corpus Christi ISD’s director of strategic evaluation systems and support La Tricia Johnson told the teachers. “Sometimes that comes with challenges because you’re working against all the other obstacles they have in their lives, and those things can influence their learning and it can influence instruction.”

Among the Cullen Place Elementary School designated teachers are educators who have been in the classroom for about two decades. Cullen Place only opened in August, but previously teachers worked at Meadowbrook, Montclair and Woodlawn elementary schools.

The designated teachers earned their allotments for progress made last school year at their previous campuses.

“Last year we were at Woodlawn Elementary, and we had a very supportive administrative team,” pre-K teacher Lydia De Los Santos said, gathered with several other former Woodlawn teachers who earned a TIA-designation. “Everybody functioned there as a family, and we worked together as a team to ensure the success of our students.”

De Los Santos and fellow designated teachers, kindergarten teacher Janeth Conard, fourth grade teacher Gina Garcia and second grade teacher Laura Soria said they were honored to receive a designation.

“We did what we always do for our students,” De Los Santos said.

Every student can learn, De Los Santos said.

“And every student is a piece of our heart,” Garcia added.

About 300 out of over 1,000 eligible teachers across Corpus Christi ISD earned a designation through the Teacher Incentive Allotment program, including 14 Cullen Place Elementary School teachers who were recognized Thursday morning at the school.

About 300 out of over 1,000 eligible teachers across Corpus Christi ISD earned a designation through the Teacher Incentive Allotment program, including 14 Cullen Place Elementary School teachers who were recognized Thursday morning at the school.

Johnson gave a presentation on the Teacher Incentive Allotment program to the CCISD Board of Trustees last week. Then, the Corpus Christi ISD TIA team set off on a tour of the district, visiting each campus where each of the 300+ CCISD designated teachers work.

Districts create local systems to designate teachers as recognized, exemplary or master teachers with state approval. Teachers are awarded funds based on their designation and the socioeconomic or rural status of the school where they teach.

Corpus Christi ISD’s first cohort of teachers who earned a designation will receive their awards this spring after a two-year process of data collection and data validation.

At a time when Texas lawmakers have neglected to increase public school funding, the Teacher Incentive Allotment is one way school districts can access state dollars to reward high-performing teachers.

But in school districts that have participated in the Teacher Incentive Allotment, only about a third of eligible teachers have earned pay boosts. In Corpus Christi ISD, close to 30% of participating eligible teachers earned an allotment this year.

“Designations within our district are comparable within similar districts across the state,” Johnson told the board.

When creating a local designation method, Corpus Christi ISD began with pre-K and early childhood special education teachers, kindergarten through fifth grade reading and math teachers, second grade through fifth grade science teachers, sixth through eighth grade reading, math and science teachers and eighth grade social studies teachers, as well as teachers who teach English I, English II, algebra I, biology and U.S. History.

In total, 1,026 teachers across the district attempted to earn a TIA designation. Four teachers automatically received a TIA designation because they are National Board-certified teachers.

But of the rest, only 305 teachers earned a designation. Corpus Christi ISD had 118 recognized teachers, 150 exemplary teachers and 37 master teachers.

These teachers will keep their designation, and earn annual allotments, for five years. For recognized and exemplary teachers, they also have the opportunity to receive a higher designation if they can show higher student growth.

In Corpus Christi ISD, the average award amount was $5,614 for a recognized teacher, $11,228 for an exemplary teacher and $20,713 for a master teacher. Of this award, about 10% is kept by the district to cover the cost of the program, which includes assessments and professional development.

The dollar amount of the allotment that teachers actually see in their paychecks will look smaller because part of the allotment also goes towards the school district’s portion of payroll expenditures, such as contributions to Medicare and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, as well as employee payroll deductions for taxes, Medicare and retirement.

During the May trustees meeting, Johnson’s presentation included a sample teacher payout. For a master teacher awarded $29,700, the max amount a Corpus Christi ISD teacher could earn based on their designation and the socioeconomic status of their school, the district would retain $2,790 for program costs.

An additional $2,938 would go towards the district’s payroll expenditures. So, the amount going to the teacher would be $23,792. After taxes, insurance and pension contributions that would be $16,627 in take-home pay.

A wider cohort of teachers are currently completing their data collection year to see if they will earn a designation next year.

The district broadened the local system to include all high school math, English, science and social studies teachers, including AP and IB teachers, middle school social studies teachers, secondary fine arts teachers, high school career and technical education teachers and level one and level two world language teachers, as well as special education and intervention teachers who are aligned with the listed courses.

The district has another cohort of teachers at specialized campuses, such as at Mary Grett Transition Center or at the Student Success Center, that are also being made eligible for TIA pending state approval.

Johnson said that the district has heard from the state that Corpus Christi ISD is unique in the number of teachers it has opened the TIA opportunity to.

“We are the only district that has opened this opportunity up to all of our teachers,” Johnson said.

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This article originally appeared on Corpus Christi Caller Times: Corpus Christi ISD broadens state pay boost program for top teachers

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