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High-paying charter school shows big results

A New York City charter school offers a whopping $125,000 salary to staff its classrooms with top-tier teachers. A new study suggests the model has worked.

The study shows that students attending the Manhattan middle school, called The Equity Project, progressed more quickly than similar children attending traditional city schools, the Wall Street Journal reported. The contrast is stark—students' test scores jumped the equivalent of an extra year and a half of schooling in math, with a half-year progression in both English and science.

A teacher interacts with students at The Equity Project Charter School in New York.
The Equity Project Charter School
A teacher interacts with students at The Equity Project Charter School in New York.

The school skimps on administrative staff and maintains larger class sizes than city schools, 31 compared to an average of roughly 27 students, in order to afford lofty teacher salaries.The $125,000 salary nearly doubles the average of city school districts, and the school's highest-paid teacher took in almost $140,000 with bonuses last year, the Journal said.

Zeke Vanderhoek, the school's founder and principal, touts the importance of teacher quality in driving student progress. In his mind, offering top-tier salaries will attract the best teachers to the school, the Journal wrote. Applicants are required to send a video of their teaching styles and go through teaching auditions as part of the school's screening process.

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While the report, which will be released Friday by Mathematica Policy Research, shows promising signs for the school model, questions remain. Charter schools still receive criticism for their allotment of public funding, which could take away from traditional public schools. And while The Equity Project's eighth graders outperformed students citywide on state math exams in 2013, only 43 percent of them passed.

The study identified students similar to the charter students in family income, race, neighborhood and previous test records, according to the Journal. It compared academic progress from the 2009 school year through the 2012 academic year.

Read The Wall Street Journal's full story here.