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Test Scores Net Teacher Bonuses

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Teachers at three Union elementary schools received some big news on Tuesday. Teachers at three Union elementary schools received some big news on Tuesday.
They're getting bonuses from the state after students posted high academic scores. They're getting bonuses from the state after students posted high academic scores.
The bonuses total more than $144,000 for the three schools. The bonuses total more than $144,000 for the three schools.

Teachers at three Union elementary schools received some big news on Tuesday. They're getting bonuses from the state after students posted high academic scores. News On 6 anchor Scott Thompson reports the bonuses total more than $144,000 for the three schools.

It's part of a new state-sponsored program giving teachers extra incentive to improve their students' test scores.

Betsy Gladd has been teaching for nearly three decades. The Oklahoma Teacher of the Year now works with 3rd graders at Cedar Ridge Elementary. Teachers at her Union school, along with Roy Clark and Wood Elementaries received good news Tuesday morning. They're getting bonuses because the students at all three schools scored high on academic performance evaluations.

"We're thrilled. We're shocked. It was not anything anybody was expecting," said teacher Betsy Gladd.

Certified teachers at Cedar Ridge will be getting an extra $3,000, while certified teachers at Roy Clark and Marshall Moore are getting $500.

"Teachers work hard and we do the best for kids with the money or without the money. To have someone give us an award for something that we love doing is great," said teacher Betsy Gladd.

The program is in its first year. The money comes from the Oklahoma Department of Education and 60 other schools across Oklahoma will get the same financial reward. It's based on a similar plan Arkansas started in 2005.

Betsy Gladd is thrilled with the bonus, but has mixed thoughts on the program.

"I just haven't seen it anywhere where someone has jumped up and down and said,'Oh boy, this is the best thing.' There's always the opposing side that you have to think of, too," said teacher Betsy Gladd.

Critics say merit pay opens the possibility of teachers crossing the line to get the extra money. But, Union Schools Superintendent Cathy Burden says she's not worried.

"We all focus on making sure our students do as well as possible and letting all of our teachers know that's the goal. Educated children, not necessarily a bonus that may come due to a particular formula that we don't really control," said Dr. Cathy Burden.

A spokeswoman for the state department of education says they're still working to determine the other schools that have qualified for the award.

The Foundation for Tulsa Schools also offers merit-based bonuses to schools.

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