Elevate: School Transformation Model
The GCS Elevate Incentive model is a four-year pilot program to attract and retain high-quality teachers and personnel for the District’s lowest-performing schools with the largest opportunity for growth. In this model, all certified staff and instructional aides will be provided a higher base pay than a comparably experienced and qualified teacher or instructional aide in another school in order to attract and retain more experienced personnel. The pilot program will also provide financial incentives to all staff in the Elevate schools with the goal of building a unified community and a shared drive for improving student performance from all employees.
- Attract high quality teachers who will have specific performance goals
- Retain teachers long-term
- Create a culture that prioritizes learning and instruction
- Increase achievement level of the schools
- Result in higher academic performance
Frequently Asked Questions: Current and Prospective Teachers
Research has shown that the number one factor influencing individual student achievement is the quality of the teacher in the classroom. The GCS Elevate Incentive model is a four-year pilot program to attract and retain high-quality teachers and personnel for the District’s lowest-performing schools with the largest opportunity for growth. In this model, all certified staff and instructional aides will be provided a higher base pay than a comparably experienced and qualified teacher or instructional aide in another school in order to attract and retain more experienced personnel. The pilot program will also provide financial incentives to all staff in the Elevate schools with the goal of building a unified community and a shared drive for improving student performance from all employees.
The four-year pilot program will roll out in 2024-25 at two schools: Alexander Elementary and Lakeview Middle. Alexander Elementary has been the lowest-performing elementary school in academic achievement in the District for several years and is a feeder school for Lakeview Middle. Lakeview Middle is currently under a Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) designation at the state level. If student achievement does not improve to the point of Lakeview moving out of the CSI designation by the end of 2024-25, the school may be subject to a state takeover. The District recognizes that test scores are not the only indicator of the level of work being done within a school. At the same time, the scores are one of the primary methods that the state uses to evaluate student achievement, and those scores have real implications for students and must be improved. Additionally, these two Title I schools experience a consistently high level of teacher turnover, which has a direct impact on students in the classroom.
We also recognize that many of the students in these schools live in poverty, are multilingual learners or may be experiencing a variety of barriers to achievement that are beyond the control of educators. What the District has learned through our focus schools initiative is that high-quality instructional practices and expectations help mitigate the impact of those obstacles. To achieve ongoing academic improvement those practices must be continually and consistently utilized and integrated into the culture of the school. Elevate will provide the best opportunity to attract and retain a stable core of high-quality, veteran teachers and administrators, which we know leads to more consistent use of best practices that ultimately maximize student achievement.
The primary goal of the model is to embed high-quality instructional practices consistently throughout the schools to ensure students receive the type of instruction necessary to facilitate their highest possible achievement. Additionally, a goal of the model is to ensure schools on the State Designation List are able to work their way off the list and better prepare students for academic and personal success.
The District has designed this incentive model to be implemented in partnership with the school teams. By having school staff members reapply for positions within the school, staff members are indicating that they want to be a part of this innovative model. For those that are hired, the hope is they feel a sense of buy-in and shared ownership, rather than experiencing a model that is being imposed on them. The District will be working alongside the school and supporting them with resources and tools. The District and the school will experience shared challenges, shared learnings, and shared celebrations, but ultimately, being the primary implementers within the classroom, school staff have the opportunity to earn the financial incentives.
Current administrators, teachers, and classroom instructional aides at the Elevate schools will have the opportunity to reapply for their positions, and those positions will also be open to applicants from other schools or districts. Staff selection will be based on experience levels, ability to drive performance, and past attainment of results. As in the past, these schools will continue to receive additional Title I allocations to best serve students.
Anyone interested in applying to work in the Elevate schools, Alexander Elementary and Lakeview Middle, can attend any of the information sessions available in November and December to learn more. Information sessions will be held on Zoom. Please register in order to receive a Zoom link. Available positions will be posted on the GCS Jobs page on the website in November and December.
Having current administration and certified and instructional staff reapply ensures an equitable process for hiring. Additionally, those staff members in the two schools deserve the opportunity to choose to be a part of this model. Applying will indicate that they desire to be a part of this innovative model, rather than being required to implement it, which is sometimes the feedback received by the District when new initiatives are rolled out. When internal administration and instructional school staff reapply or external staff apply, the result should be a group of educators that has a track record of success academically, actively sought out this opportunity, desires to be a part of an innovative model, is aware of the challenges, and is excited by the potential and the opportunities ahead.
Any personnel not selected to return to the Elevate schools will be placed at another GCS location in accordance with their certification, in a position compensated at the normal rate of pay.
The following compensation considerations will be assigned to different types of employees, again with the goal of attracting the highest quality, most experienced staff:
- BASE INCENTIVE - All principals, administrators, certified teachers (in both tested and non-tested grade levels), and instructional aides will receive the base incentive.
- TEACHER PERFORMANCE - If an individual teacher in tested grades meets their goal, they will receive a performance bonus.
- SCHOOL PERFORMANCE - If a school meets its overall performance goal, all staff (certified and non-certified) receive school performance incentives, since all staff contribute to the success of students.
*ML Certification - One Time Only
Detailed financial incentive information will be provided during the Information Sessions. Please register in order to receive a Zoom link.
For teachers in grades 4-8, each individual student receives a customized growth target based on students throughout the state in the same grade, taking the same subject area test, with the same/similar previous year’s test score. For teachers in grade 3, 50% of their students must Meet or Exceed Expectations on SC READY ELA and Mathematics. This percent may grow over time, but it’s important to set realistic growth goals at the beginning and increase those goals so student achievement continues to progress over time. While instructional staff in other grades and non-instructional staff within the schools, do not have growth goals for individual students, they will be eligible to receive school performance incentives
The Elevate school teams will receive additional, paid training and professional development opportunities provided by the District. All teachers in the school, regardless of subject/content area, will receive coaching and support to ensure their students are progressing and ready for the 3rd grade. The normal district assessments will be used as benchmarks to help progress monitor students' achievement over the year.
Redirection of Title I allocations will partially fund the pilot, but additional dollars are needed to fully fund the incentive component, which is why $4.5 million from the General Fund – Fund Balance (remaining funds from previous years’ operations) was included in the proposal.
For the last five years, Alexander Elementary and Lakeview Middle have been provided with additional support from District academic personnel. There were 10 District academic team members on-site for approximately 21 hours/week at Alexander Elementary. There were 12 District academic team members on-site for more than 73 hours/week at Lakeview Middle, along with 22 hours/week of support being provided by a transformational coach through the SC Department of Education.
During the current 2023-24 school year, that support increased. Including the previous support mentioned above, District team members spent approximately an additional 22 hours/week for a total of 43 hours/week on-site at Alexander. While the transformational coach through the SC Department of Education’s time decreased to 7.5 hours/week at Lakeview, District staff was on-site at Lakeview for an additional 68 hours/week for a total of 141 hours/week on-site at the school.
While there was some improvement through these additional District resources, we know that the most effective instructional practices must be continually and consistently utilized and integrated into the culture of the school. Elevate will provide the best opportunity to attract and retain a stable core of high-quality, veteran teachers and administrators, which we know leads to more consistent use of best practices that ultimately maximize student achievement over time.
The District administration has spent several years researching and building this unique and innovative model based on what has worked and what’s been learned through other incentive models around the country. The idea of additional recruitment and retention bonuses have come up several times over the years within the Teacher Forum group and input has been provided from multiple teacher groups on what compensation might look like and whether compensation is sufficient for teachers to move to a different school to teach. Once the model was solidified, the District met with a group of principals in Spring of 2023 to review the model and solicit feedback.
For the last five years, the District has provided additional staff and interventions at the Elevate schools. Once the pilot schools were determined, the District met with the principals individually and then with the staff at each school prior to the presentation made at the GCS Board of Trustees’ Committee of the Whole meeting.
As this is a pilot program, if successful, the District will look to implement the Elevate model to recruit and retain experienced teachers at all Title I schools exhibiting lagging performance when compared to similar schools and/or to all Title I schools. If the bonus portion is successful, it could be implemented District-wide.
How to apply
Apply for an Elevate job at:
All Elevate positions will accept applications starting November 1.
Plan to attend one of these informational sessions to learn more about Elevate. You will receive a Zoom invitation to your email a few days before the information session.
Sessions will be held at 4 p.m. on:
- November 6
- November 7
- November 13
- November 20
- November 21
- November 27
- November 28
- December 4
A Spanish translation of this information will be made available soon.
Próximamente estará disponible la traducción al español de esta información.