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COLUMBUS/BRUCE, Miss. (WCBI) — A pilot merit incentive pay program is paying off for teachers at two elementary schools in Columbus and one in Bruce.

The teachers at Cook Fine Arts Magnet School and Franklin Health Magnet School in Columbus and Bruce Upper Elementary will get $1,000 stipends this week based on their student achievement gains on state tests taken last spring compared to the prior spring.

They are among 281 certified teachers at seven schools statewide who will receive the checks. The other schools are Van Winkle Elementary in Jackson, Cook Elementary and Franklin Academy in Columbus, North Jones Elementary in Jones County, Central Elementary in George County, and Magee Middle School in Simpson County.

The funds come through the national Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF).

In 2010, the Mississippi Department of Education received one of the highly competitive five-year federal grants to improve student learning. The TIF grant, also known as the Terrific Schools Initiative, is designed to motivate the academic performance of students through strong leadership of teachers and administrators. The program measures an educator’s performance by student outcomes.

As part of the initiative, MDE offered professional development throughout the school year, and new teachers received ongoing guidance from highly trained mentor teachers. In addition, MDE piloted a new teacher evaluation system in these schools, the Mississippi Statewide Teacher Appraisal Rubric (M-STAR). As part of the grant, a performance-based compensation system was created to reward educators for increased student performance.

The MDE selected 10 schools to participate in the initiative, but three schools have not yet shown student growth. They are Oak Forest Elementary in Jackson, Mendenhall Jr. High in Simpson County, and Buckatunna Elementary in Wayne County.

“We are very proud of the schools selected to participate in this grant. In a short time, they have already shown marked improvement and academic progress. We support their hard work and look forward to their continued success in the coming years,” said Dr. Daphne Buckley, deputy state superintendent of education.

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