Newark’s School Chief Is Up for Her Next Performance Bonus

John Mooney | July 22, 2013 | Education
Cami Anderson’s contract enters third year of potentially earning extra pay of as much as $50,000

cami anderson
Entering her third year on the job, Newark’s state-appointed schools superintendent, Cami Anderson, is up for a second year of performance bonuses of up to $50,000 and negotiating the goals for a third.

The potentially handsome bonuses are based on professional goals agreed upon based on her own initiatives and the performance of Newark schools, part of a contract she reached with the Christie administration in 2011.

In the first year, she hit six of seven performance benchmarks and won a $41,085 bonus on top of her $247,500 base salary, according to the state.

In the year that just ended, at least four qualitative measures appear to have been met, including completion of the new teacher contract, which includes its own performance bonuses for teachers. The other three quantitative goals are tied directly to student test scores, which have not yet been returned to the district, officials said.

In each of the three years, the four qualitative measures together amounted to a 10 percent bonus, and the three quantitative ones account for another 10 percent. Under the contract, her base salary does not change.

This next year will be a critical one. It is the final year in Anderson’s existing deal and the year in which she has said she wants to revamp the way schools are held accountable and how students choose their schools.

Anderson declined to talk in detail about the performance bonuses or the current negotiations until the goals are agreed upon. Late yesterday, she said in an email: “The summer is a critical time to assess goals and progress – and to work collaboratively to set new goals.”

“I am pleased with how much we have accomplished but remain humbled by how much there is to do to ensure every student in Newark is in a school that puts them on the path to success,” she wrote.

State Education Commissioner Chris Cerf would only say, “We are in those negotiations now.”

But Cerf left little doubt that he is satisfied with Anderson’s overall performance so far, and indicated she is likely to see her contract renewed when it expires on June 30, 2014. Under the contract, the administration must notify Anderson by Sept. 1 of this year if her contract is not going to be renewed.

“I think she is doing an outstanding job,” Cerf said in an interview last week. “In every respect, she’s doing outstanding work.”

Asked specifically whether he expected to notify Anderson in the next month that she would not be renewed, he replied: “I have every expectation that she will continue her great work in Newark for years to come.”

The discussions and decisions on Anderson’s future come at a time when the state’s oversight of the district, as well as Anderson’s tenure, have been under considerable fire.

The district’s local advisory board and the city’s Municipal Council have both given Anderson a vote of no confidence, and an appeals court just rejected an attempt by the local board to force the return of key controls over the city’s schools.

However, the Christie administration has agreed to return some fiscal controls, a process that will require separate negotiations set to begin this week.

Local board President Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson last week received Anderson’s performance goals for the second year. She also received a summary of the district’s new performance reports for schools that puts them into different categories, ranging from “low” to “on the move” to “good” to “great.”

The performance reports include charter schools. Anderson has said that holding those schools equally accountable is another of her goals. Last month, she rolled out an initiative called “One Newark” that will make the district the central place where students will choose whether to attend traditional or charter schools.

Following is a list of Anderson’s first-year goals. She achieved all but the third one, which pertained to math scores, according to the state.

  • The percent of Newark high school students scoring proficient or better on either the math or language sections of the High School Proficiency Assessment rises 3 percent.
  • The percent of all students grades 3-8 who are not proficient in language arts drops 2 percent and/or the average language arts score increases.
  • The percent of all students grades 3-8 who are not proficient in math drops 2 percent and/or the average math score increases.
  • Teacher evaluation pilot, including survey of participating schools and recommendations for improvement.
  • Teacher quality initiative, including summary of training and coaching and baseline teacher survey.
  • Progress reports for every school, including training on how to interpret them.
  • Adoption of “college-ready” standards, including implementation plan for Common Core State Standards and a new college-ready assessment.
  • Anderson second-year goals, which will be the basis for determining her next bonus, are part of a broader evaluation that includes 18 measures in all. The first four are qualitative, and the next three are quantitative. She must achieve each by this month to receive the corresponding bonus.

  • Each K-8 and high school has “college ready” student achievement targets based on baseline ACT and “student growth percentile” (SGP) results
  • User-friendly, public, system-wide (Newark Public Schools and charter) summary of student achievement including SGP
  • Breakthrough contract with best-in-class elements on merit pay, turnaround provisions, waivers, extended day, and flexibility
  • New Principal Evaluation Tool, with student achievement targets and transformational leader framework
  • Renew Schools see language arts scale scores and/or SGP increase as compared to the schools they replaced
  • At least one more K-8 school achieves “on the move” status
  • At least on more K-8 school is “good”