LEAD Public Schools, Nashville’s largest local charter network, was one of 13 school districts across the country and the only district in Tennessee to be awarded a teacher and school leader incentive program grant by the U.S. Department of Education.
The grant totaled $5.1 million in the next three years.
LEAD Public Schools was recognized for its self-funded, innovative teacher compensation plan and commitment to treating teachers like professionals and compensating them based on performance. Traditionally, teachers are compensated on experience only. Each year, teachers at LEAD Public Schools can earn up to a 10% increase to their base salary driven by their performance, starting at year one.
“Teachers are our greatest asset at LEAD Public Schools and deserve to make enough to be able to live in an increasingly expensive Nashville,” said Dwayne Tucker, CEO of LEAD Public Schools. “We can’t thank the U.S. Department of Education enough for recognizing that our work is innovative and valuable and could form a model to be replicated.”
LEAD launched the self-funded teacher compensation program in the previous year by cutting costs in their transportation budget. The program was launched after an extensive review of the existing and often complex teacher compensation programs across the country.
In evaluating in its own practices, LEAD discovered something unique. At LEAD, in the last eight years, there was a statistically significant correlation between teacher evaluation and student performance. LEAD’s highest performing teachers were consistently producing high levels of student achievement and growth. The key point allowed LEAD to build a transparent and straightforward model that allows teachers to project their future compensation in real-time based on their evaluations and coaching without having to wait for state test results like many other districts implementing the models across the country. Starting this year, LEAD extended the performance based compensation model to all non-teaching staff.
“We know that the best way to improve academic outcomes for our students is through the development of our teachers,” said Chris Elliott, head of academics at LEAD Public Schools. “We also know that teachers are leaving the industry at an alarming rate. We are proud of our teacher evaluation model that helps our teachers grow professionally and pays them accordingly.”
LEAD’s teacher compensation program also includes an instructional coach for every eight teachers, 16 weeks of paid parental leave for primary caretakers and four weeks of paid leave for secondary caretakers.
The U.S. Department of Education awarded the grants to districts and charter networks in qualified opportunity zones or zones where students were traditionally underserved.
Each grant is specifically designed to develop, enhance, improve and/or implement a performance-based teacher and/or principal compensation system, or both, in collaboration with teachers, administrators, other school leaders and members of the public. Each of the funded projects was also designed to be concentrated in high-need schools and has the goal of increasing overall student achievement and closing the achievement gap between low- and high-performing students. Recipients include 11 public school districts and charter school networks from around the country and two nonprofit organizations that support schools and districts in urban and rural communities nationwide.
LEAD Public Schools is the largest local charter network in Nashville that operates six schools – both open-enrollment schools and zoned-enrollment schools. From fifth through 12th grades, the schools serve predominantly students of color and low-income populations who are likely to be first-generation college attendees. For more information, visit leadpublicschools.org.