York Prep hands out $12,700 to teachers for student achievement

York Preparatory Academy handed out $12,700 in incentive checks to 65 educators Tuesday as a reward for data that showed the top level of growth in student academic performance.

“The kids in this school grew far more than they were expected to grow” according to state test data from the 2014-15 school year, Elliot Smalley, superintendent of the S.C. Charter Public School District, told the school faculty Tuesday.

Smalley said York Prep, with about 1,500 students in kindergarten through high school, was one of four charter schools in the 32-school district to show such growth.

“It’s all about teachers and leaders,” said Smalley, who said charter leaders wanted to reward the highest performing schools and teachers. “I don’t think we shine enough light on our teachers.”

He said York Prep received the top school rating of five, on a scale of one to five, for how students grew academically last year compared to how they were expected to perform.

A rating of three indicates students’ academic performance grew about as it was expected to, Smalley said, while a five rating shows academic performance grew “much higher” than expected.

Incentive pay for the award was distributed to 65 faculty members who taught at the school last year and returned this year. The school has about 100 faculty members.

Each returning faculty member received $200, said Bryan Carpenter, acting head of the school.

He said five teachers whose classes received the five ratings for overall student performance received an additional $200, and three teachers whose classes received four ratings got an extra $100.

“I think the award speaks for itself,” Carpenter said.

Courtney Taylor, a fourth-grade teacher who received a level five rating for her students’ performance, was happy to receive the pay. But she did not expect it.

“I had high expectations for my group of students last year, and they met me halfway,” Taylor said. “The students did their part, and that makes the difference.”

Robbie Compton, assistant superintendent for the charter district, said the district has a contract with SAS EVAAS, a system that tracks student performance.

Compton said the performance rating is based on required state student assessments, the S.C. READY test for grades three to eight and end-of-course tests for high school.

“They did an awesome job boosting student achievement here,” Compton said.

Three other South Carolina charter schools that received the incentive awards are Spartanburg Prep School in Spartanburg, Green Charter School in Greenville and Royal Live Oaks Academy of the Arts and Sciences in Hardeeville.

Jennifer Becknell: 803-329-4077