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Bonuses to high-performing schools a budget casualty

The Department of Education would abandon a program it launched last year to reward schools that earned A’s on their progress reports, under the budget cut proposal Mayor Bloomberg released yesterday. The program was supposed to give $30 per student to schools that earned both an A grade on the progress report and a “well-developed” score on their Quality Review. That money, which entered the school’s general budget, was separate from awards given to principals and teachers in high-performing schools.

But now, as part of a $180 million reduction in DOE spending ordered by the mayor, the $3.4 million earmarked to pay schools this year for their 2007-2008 performance is slated to be slashed from the department’s budget.

When bonuses were awarded for the first time, last January, 134 schools qualified. The number skyrocketed in the reports’ second year, to more than 380 elementary and middle schools. The higher grades followed a wave of higher test scores across New York State. Even more schools could have been awarded bonuses: High school progress reports haven’t yet been released.

As far as I can tell, progress report bonuses are the only element of Chancellor Joel Klein’s accountability initiatives that are already slated for elimination. I’ve posted the mayor’s complete list of proposed budget reductions for the DOE below the jump. Do you see others?

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