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'High-risk' schools getting $10.9M in federal funding

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) has been selected to take part in a five-year effort to improve education in “high-need” schools by developing a performance-based compensation system, according to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.).

MDE was selected through the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grant competition to receive more than $10.9 million for a five-year initiative to develop and implement a program that links performance-based compensation with a comprehensive effort to increase student achievement among low-income and minority students.

“Mississippi schools are making progress in academic achievement but our state can, and should, make greater advances on that front. Well-educated students are important not only for the personal goals of individual youths, but also to the future of Mississippi to compete and grow economically,” said Cochran, who is ranking Republican on the Senate appropriations panel that funds federal education programs.

The MDE application presented a series of objectives to improve high-need schools, including: develop and implement a sustainable statewide performance-based differentiated compensation system by July 2011; and, increase high-need student achievement by at least 10 percent each year of the grant; increase the number of effective teachers and principals, including those needed for hard-to-staff subjects, in troubled schools.

According to MDE’s successful application, its goal is to “improve student achievement in high-need schools and increase the number of effective teachers in hard-to-staff subjects through a comprehensive, integrated strategy to recruit and retain effective teachers and principals in those schools defined by low student achievement and high concentrations of minority and economically disadvantaged students.”

Nationwide, 62 TIF applications were accepted and awarded a total sum of $442 million.

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