Rewarding Metrics That Matter

At RePublic Schools, our high school is closest to our mission. We make a promise to scholars and families that the education their scholars receive in our elementary, middle, and high schools will set them up to be able to enter, persist and succeed in, and graduate from college. Our high school team is charged with ensuring that we are able to make good on this promise when our kids are closest to achieving this goal.

In the year ahead, we are pouring into our high school in many ways. To name a few: We’ve made significant changes to the leadership team’s structure to ensure that we are able to operate with excellent systems and provide teachers with robust coaching and development they need to help kids win. We’ve redesigned the course progression to ensure that it sets all kids up to be able to graduate, do so  on time, and get the remediation and academic pushes they need to thrive in core content areas. We’re introducing more elective options. And we’ve redefined what we’re looking for in top candidates to join the team: a deep, nerdy obsession with rigorous content and a relentless commitment to operating as one team with high expectations for kids and colleagues alike.

In addition to these and other changes, we are proud to share that we will introduce, for the first time, an opportunity for RePublic staff members who are advisors at RePublic High School to earn a competitive bonus on top of their base salaries that is tied to key metrics that matter in the life of the school - and in the long term success of our scholars.

At RePublic High School, “advisors” lead by supporting a team or cohort of scholars, called an “advisory,” to successfully navigate high school. They are responsible, through daily touch points, regular communication with scholars and families, communication with other RHS teammates, and time spent building a culture of pride and support in advisory cohorts, for ensuring that scholars in their advisory thrive academically and personally during their time at RHS. This bonus will allow staff members who lead an advisory to earn up to $7,000 for meeting key metrics: the average GPA of their advisory scholars, average attendance of their advisory scholars, and enrollment of the school.

But, why these metrics?

First, attendance. We know that the first step to scholars thriving in school is being in school. Consistent attendance is shown to correlate to stronger academic outcomes, reduced behavioral incidence, and in our experience, contributes to a far more positive overall school culture. When scholars are consistently present and engaged, they are less likely to fall into a downward spiral of falling behind in classes and feeling unsuccessful, a cycle that can be hard to reverse.

Second, GPA. There is a significant body of research that indicates having a strong GPA in high school is one of the greatest predictors of college persistence and success. Richard Whitmire wrote recently about why scholars at Uncommon Schools’ North Star Academy who have a GPA above 3.0 are four times more likely to graduate from college. He cites findings from a recent student completed by Matthew Chingos, Director of the Urban Institute’s Education Policy Program:

This makes sense given that earning good grades requires consistent behaviors over time — showing up to class and participating, turning in assignments, taking quizzes, etc. — whereas students could in theory do well on a test even if they do not have the motivation and perseverance needed to achieve good grades. It seems likely that the kinds of habits high school grades capture are more relevant for success in college than a score from a single test.
— Matthew Chingos, Director of the Urban Institute's Education Policy Program

This doesn’t mean that high-stakes tests don’t matter. “‘While we may fight it, the SAT is a very objective measure of college readiness. English and math are the foundations,’” explains Paul Bambrick-Santoyo, who leads North Star’s high school and much of Uncommon’s professional learning work. Both are critical - but GPA has been shown to correlate more strongly with success and persistence in college.

Next year, we’re putting stakes in the ground about what we believe and know matters in the lives and long term success of our RePublic High School scholars. With the introduction of this bonus opportunity, we’re putting resources behind those beliefs.

When asked whether this will become more common practice at RePublic Schools, Director of Schools Annie Robison says that the jury is still out.

“We’ll learn a lot from this experience next year at RHS about how incentive structures like these reinforce the values, vision, and goals of our schools,” shares Robison. “We want our staff members to succeed, and we believe these goals, while ambitious, are certainly achievable. We are an organization that thinks differently about how we approach this work - it’s in RePublic’s DNA. So - as always, we’re open and committed to using learnings from the year ahead to inform our future practices.”

To learn more about RePublic’s SY20 Performance Bonus opportunity for staff members who lead advisories at RePublic High School, read here. If you’re interested in locking arms with us in this work, check out opportunities and apply to join RePublic Schools in the upcoming school year and beyond on our website, or email Diana Anosike at danosike@republiccharterschools.org to set up time to talk.