The Quest for Quality: Part II - Mending Broken Trust

Apr 15, 2014

For some the multimillion dollar philanthropic effort known as Quality Education for All is strong sign of support for a community that has lacked it for all too long. But for others, it is another set of promises and plans that will lead to disappointment.

In part two of our Quest for Quality series, we'll take a look at the history behind some of the community's broken trust and what educators and community leaders believe it can take to repair it.

QUALITY EDUCATION FOR ALL

The Background:

The The Quality Education for All initiative first launched in 2004 through the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida following several focus groups to determine the most pressing issues concerning Jacksonville. Education ranked highest, so the group set a goal of raising $2 million towards improving student achievement over the next 10 years.

Duval County School Board Member Paula Wright hugs Pearson Elementary principal Debbie Crotty.
Credit Rhema Thompson / WJCT

As fundraising efforts got underway, the group and the district consulted with the Bridgespan Group, a national firm specializing in education reform, to help determine where to invest the money. Human capital was identified, along with 36 public schools in the greatest need.

In 2013, the QEA advisory council was officially formed with a goal of raising $50 million towards improving education.

Currently, more than two-thirds - $36 million - of that goal has been raised. The plan is to spend down most of the fund on the planned investments over five years, with a small percentage set aside in an endowment to sustain education initiatives in the future. So far, about $20 million in grants have been approved.

The funds are housed at the Community Foundation and the money is managed by the Jacksonville Public Education Fund.

The Donors:

Gary and Nancy Chartrand; Dan and Cindy Edelman; PGA Tour, Inc. on behalf of THE PLAYERS Championship; David and Linda Stein; Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver; Laurie and Linda DuBow; The Petway Family Foundation Inc.; Gilchrist Berg; Florida Blue; David and Ann Hicks; Jack and Mary Jane Uible; Edward (Ted) Baker; John Baker; Robert and Margaret Hill; Sandy McArthur; Russell and Joannie Newton; Jay and Deanie Stein; Hap and Brook Stein.

The Advisory Board:

Chairman -Wayne Weaver; Members - Cindy Edelman; Gary Chartrand; Laurie DuBow; Matt Rapp; David Stein; Non-voting Members - Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools; Nina Waters, President of The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida. 

The Programs:

With the exception of The New Teacher Project and the Performance Incentives program, each of the following programs will be reviewed by the advisory board on a yearly basis to determine if funding will continue.

1. The Jacksonville Teacher Residency Program

What it is: A medical residency-style program set to launch this summer that places high achieving undergraduates and places them in high-need schools for a total of four years—one year as a resident with an assigned mentor and three years as a teacher in one of 36 targeted schools. The initiative targets content areas and professionals in STEM- Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Teachers receive a $20,000 living stipend and teaching certification their first year; and a Master's degree in Education from the University of North Florida their second year.

The program launches this summer and is now accepting applications from current teachers, business professionals, recent graduates and others interested in pursuing education. The application deadline is April 21. More information is available at www.duvalschools.org/JTR.

How much: $1.6 million approved, $5.5 million total proposed over next three years.

2. The New Teacher Project

What it is: A district-wide initiative contracting the New York based non-profit TNTP to conduct an audit of the district’s current human resource policies and practices over a seven month period between January 2014 and July 2014 and develop the state’s first Common Core State Standards aligned teacher observation rubric. A full audit report from TNTP is expected this summer.

How much: $653,361 approved.

3. Teach for America

What it is: A grant that goes toward supporting a three-year contract with the teacher recruiting nonprofit Teach for America beginning in the 2014-15 year. The contract was approved by the Duval County School Board in March and will be paid in part by the district as well as by separate funds generated by TFA. The contract provides support and resources for up to 200 TFA corp members annually. New recruits will be focused in the district’s 36 targeted schools in the areas of math, English language arts and science.

How much:  $1.8 million for the first year, and a total of $5.2 million total proposed, but that is under the condition that at least 30 percent of TFA corps members must retain for a third year. Currently, TFA’s third-year retention rate in Jacksonville is about 27 percent, according to a Columbia University study.

4. Performance Incentives for QEA Schools

What it is: A performance-based pay incentive program designed to attract and keep the highly effective teachers in the district’s highest need schools. Teachers in the district’s 36 QEA schools who show a student achievement growth of 25 percent or higher on the value-added model would be eligible to receive an additional $20,000 to stay. In the subsequent two years, the same teacher could receive that much, half or no incentive depending on student performance. Also, teachers working outside the 36 QEA schools would receive a $17,000 bump their first year if they agree to move to one of the 36 and could receive the same increase or less in the next two years, depending on student performance. Likewise, principals who’ve demonstrated an ability to raise student achievement would be eligible to get a $20,000 boost their first year if they work in one of the 36 schools. They receive the same, half or no incentive over the next two years, depending on the school’s overall performance.

District and school administrators will also reserve the right to remove or fire any teacher at the designated schools that they believe does not meet the academic or social needs of the school.

A copy of the Memorandum of Understanding between the district and the union isavailable here.

How much:  Up to $15.2 million approved over the next three years.

5. Summer Principals Academy at Columbia University

What it is: A leadership fellowship at the Teacher’s College at Columbia University which trains teachers  to become principals or assistant principals. Through the program, which takes place each summer, fellows can also earn a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership. Two teachers in Duval County attended training last year. Three will be attending the program this summer.

How much: Currently, $304,633 approved this year, $1.1 million proposed.

6. Data System Improvements

What it is: The creation of an improved district-wide data system for teachers, district leaders and the community to help them make data-based decisions about human talent within district schools. If approved, it would launch this fall.

How much: $5 million matching grant proposed over the next five years; not yet approved.

The Schools:

Ribault Feeder Pattern

Ribault High School – 2012-13 School Grade: B; 2011-12 School Grade: A

Highlands Middle School –2012-13 School Grade: D; 2011-12 School Grade: C

Ribault Middle School –2012-13 School Grade: F; 2011-12 School Grade: D

Biscayne Elementary –2012-13 School Grade: C ; 2011-12 School Grade: C

Carver Elementary*–2012-13 School Grade: C ; 2011-12 School Grade: B

Dinsmore Elementary –2012-13 School Grade: C; 2011-12 School Grade: C

Garden City Elementary –2012-13 School Grade: C; 2011-12 School Grade: B

Hull Elementary*–2012-13 School Grade: C; 2011-12 School Grade: C

Jefferson Elementary –2012-13 School Grade: B; 2011-12 School Grade: B

King Elementary–2012-13 School Grade: D; 2011-12 School Grade: D

Kite Elementary–2012-13 School Grade: C; 2011-12 School Grade: D

Lake Forest Elementary–2012-13 School Grade: D; 2011-12 School Grade: C

Mathis Elementary –2012-13 School Grade: C; 2011-12 School Grade: C

North Shore Elementary*–2012-13 School Grade: D; 2011-12 School Grade: C

Payne Elementary*–2012-13 School Grade: D; 2011-12 School Grade: C

Pearson Elementary–2012-13 School Grade: B; 2011-12 School Grade: A

Pickett Elementary*–2012-13 School Grade: C; 2011-12 School Grade: D

St. Clair Evans Elementary*–2012-13 School Grade: D; 2011-12 School Grade: C

Raines Feeder Pattern

Raines High School–2012-13 School Grade: D; 2011-12 School Grade: C

Butler Middle School –2012-13 School Grade: F; 2011-12 School Grade: D

Northwestern Middle School*–2012-13 School Grade: D; 2011-12 School Grade: F

Biltmore Elementary School–2012-13 School Grade: B; 2011-12 School Grade: A

Ford K-8 School* –2012-13 School Grade: C; 2011-12 School Grade: C

Livingston Elementary –2012-13 School Grade: D; 2011-12 School Grade:C

Morgan Elementary –2012-13 School Grade: C; 2011-12 School Grade: C

Reynolds Lane Elementary –2012-13 School Grade: B; 2011-12 School Grade: A

Tolbert Elementary –2012-13 School Grade: D; 2011-12 School Grade: C

West Jacksonville Elementary–2012-13 School Grade: F; 2011-12 School Grade: D

Woodson Elementary –2012-13 School Grade: B; 2011-12 School Grade: A

Andrew Jackson Feeder Pattern

Andrew Jackson High School –2012-13 School Grade: C; 2011-12 School Grade: B

Gilbert Middle School –2012-13 School Grade: D; 2011-12 School Grade: D

Brentwood Elementary –2012-13 School Grade: C; 2011-12 School Grade: C

Brown Elementary –2012-13 School Grade: D; 2011-12 School Grade: C

Long Branch Elementary –2012-13 School Grade: C; 2011-12 School Grade: B

Love Elementary –2012-13 School Grade: C; 2011-12 School Grade: B

Robinson Elementary –2012-13 School Grade: F; 2011-12 School Grade: D

*Schools have students who feed into more than one high school.

Sources: Duval County Public Schools; Florida Department of Education

Check back Wednesday for more on Duval County's Quest for Quality in education.

You can follow Rhema Thompson on Twitter @RhemaThompson.