They call it the War Room.
It looks like any other classroom inside Carrick High School, a sprawling structure that towers like a stone fortress over this working-class neighborhood on the city’s south side. It’s still dark out as 16 teachers and counselors – some clutching coffee or energy bars – sit in a circle, dissecting with brutal candor their students’ performance.
In addition to their classroom duties, these teachers serve as advisers to every ninth- and 10th-grader in the school, and they show up 45 minutes before school starts each day to talk about where their students need to be. No punches are pulled; no feelings are spared.
As part of the Promise Readiness Corps, these teachers are eligible for financial bonuses.
In Pittsburgh, the Corps is one element of a new plan that overhauls the way the district hires, trains, evaluates, pays and dismisses teachers. Under a new performance-pay system, incoming district teachers whose students learn, on average, at 1.3 times their grade level can earn $100,000 a year within seven years of being hired.
Raising the quality of teaching in America has been a priority of President Barack Obama’s administration, and reforms receiving the most attention right now include stronger teacher evaluation systems and financial incentives to attract, reward and retain quality educators.