Perry Township teachers will receive performance stipends through new grant funding

Students work at their desks in a classroom.
A $6 million federal grant will help Perry Township schools hire and retain teachers by funding performance-based pay. It will also support literacy coaches as the district and schools throughout Indiana shift to practices tied to the science of reading. (Rafa Fernandez Torres / Getty Images)

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Perry Township schools will receive over $6 million in federal grant funding over three years to help hire and retain teachers, and to support efforts to improve literacy.

It’s the only district in Indiana and one of 29 nationwide to receive a Teacher and School Leader (TSL) grant from the U.S. Department of Education this year. The funds are aimed at increasing teacher compensation, retention, and diversity, according to the department, in part by helping districts create performance-based compensation models.  

The bulk of the total funding — over $5 million — will go to performance-based pay and stipends for Perry teachers, while the remainder will fund two more literacy coaches at the district. The district will receive $2.5 million from the TSL grant in fiscal 2023.

Under the grant, the district will develop a formula to award teachers these bonuses. For every teacher, $1,000 will go into a fund, which will then be distributed according to teacher effectiveness, officials said. The district hopes to retain its master teachers, who model teaching and lead professional development, with the bonuses. 

While the district already employs a literacy coach for elementary school students, one of the new coaches will focus on training teachers on reading skills for older students, officials said. Perry, which has a large population of English learner and immigrant students, has recently seen more new immigrant students enroll who can’t read fluently in English or another language, Southport High School principal Amy Boone said at a Thursday press conference.  

As Indiana pushes to implement new literacy strategies tied to the science of reading, Perry officials said they hope to adapt some of those strategies to older students as well. In its grant application, the district said it hopes to grow overall student achievement in math and literacy by three percentage points per year, and narrow achievement gaps among Black and Hispanic students by 10%.

Another new coach will focus on literacy data for all students.

“​​It’s difficult for them to be successful if they lack the foundational ability to interact with the text,” said Jeff Spencer, the district’s assistant superintendent for K-12 services.

Aleksandra Appleton covers Indiana education policy and writes about K-12 schools across the state. Contact her at aappleton@chalkbeat.org.

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