Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Governor's Plan for Merit Pay

In order to compete for some of the Race to the Top federal education dollars, Governor Perdue has developed a plan to "develop, compensate and retain quality teachers". He is proposing legislation introducing a compensation system that encompasses a statewide teacher evaluation tool that determines a teacher's effectiveness by evaluating "observation of planning and instruction and the degree to which teachers help students grow academically." Perdue's legislation will "enhance the current salary structure by adding a performance-based compensation system for all new teachers and for existing teachers who choose this option." These initiatives will go into effect in 2014. Teachers have apparently been very involved in developing this program and Perdue hopes that this plan will not only bring RTTT dollars to the state, but will focus on student achievement.

Click on the photo of the letter from Perdue to see a large version.


Anonymous said...

This plan does not include the "speicals" teachers. They work just as hard if not harder sometimes.

When Maureen Downey asked the Governor's this was her reply..

They will be eligible for performance pay, but it’s going to take some
work to develop a system for those that don’t have regular assessments.
My wife is a PE teacher, so this is a question that literally “hits
home” for me.

The bill calls for the plan to be implemented in 2014, after the state
has learned from the experience of the Race to the Top systems.

The final statewide plan will be approved by the State Board of Education,
and we expect there will be significant opportunities for input along
the way to design a system that achieves the goal of adequately
rewarding our best teachers, just as we currently do for administrators
and coaches.

Bert Brantley
Director of Communications
Office of Governor Sonny Perdue

To me the state should have thought about ALL teacher's before they made a plan instead of FORGETTING about the non core teacher.

Also, what are you going to do in schools that do not have a lot of parental involvment? We will see a heck of a lot more of TEACHING TO THE TEST if not GIVING THE ANSWERS to the test.

Lastly, you will find teachers leaving low performing schools and no one will take their spot. What are you going to do then?

Cerebration said...

What will they do then? Close that school and reopen it as a charter.

Anonymous said...

However, there are some performance based pay incentive out there which would encourage teachers to teach the low performing students as the incentive is based on the child's improvement the year the teacher has the child and the improvement the child continues to make in the future. We talked about this method in my research design class Wed. night. However, the problem is that when the students start acheiving then the state will not be able to afford the incentive pay either. If they do not have pay to pay teachers now how can they expect to have a merit system of pay.

As a special education teacher, I have a problem with this. My goal is always for my students to pass the end of course test and when one of two of them do very good I am real excited. However, I know that many of my students will not retain all the information I attempt to teach them. These students have problems with their memory in many cases. This will make me want to leave the field of special education and go back to teach regular education so I will be eligble for incentive pay.

How about Health and PE teachers, Music Teachers, Typing Teachers, Dance Teachers, Drama Teachers and Art Teachers. How about the Arts? Is the Arts not important? Is Health not important?

Ella Smith

Anonymous said...

With the talk of increased class size, how can this be possible?

I have taught classes of 38-40 elementary students (first, kindergarten, and fourth grade) in another state, but my classrooms were much larger than my current classroom with 25 students this year and 29 last year. Our school classrooms are not meant for classes this large. How much learning is going to get done, when students are packed into rooms like sardines?

Anonymous said...

The way I read the original AJC article Gov. Perdue would like to substitute the step increases teachers now receive for pay for performance merit pay. Low performing schools will not be closed or reopened as charter schools as teachers leave. Teachers will be found. Mainly you'll find young teachers (1st and 2nd year) who want to get experience so they can get hired at a "better" school. By "better" school, I mean one that has less pressure and more job security. This is similar to any profession in that the person employed wants a pleasant, rewarding, stable situation. I'd say many workers would take a little less in pay to achieve the situation mentioned above, and let's face it, most teachers are not high reward-high risk taker kind of people. Most of us would not choose to be in a pressure cooker at work if we can avoid it. And we certainly don't want an axe over our heads as we constantly hear how our jobs are on the line. Pressure and job uncertainly are simply greater at low performing schools. That's why it's called high stakes testing. The problem of less experienced staff and high teacher turnover has happened for years all over the U.S. It's not discrete to DeKalb Co. or Georgia schools. It's just so much more acute now because of the intense pressure teachers in low performing schools face. There's nothing wrong with young teachers except most don't really find their footing for a few years. They bring a lot of enthusiasm and current content knowledge to the job, and they'll really hit their stride by year 3 or 4. However, there's always a problem when the turnover in a school is high. Most businesses cannot continually have 40% to 50% turnover and not experience negative outcomes. Schools cannot afford this either. Children in particular need stability. In low performing schools, the educational system is often the only stable institution they can count on. I don't think Gov. Perdue's plan ensures this at all. I think this will guarantee that too many of those 3rd year teachers seek a different workplace, namely a high performing school with less stress and more job security. I've worked in almost every school in DeKalb County, and it's apparent that the turnover in low performing schools is so much greater than high performing schools. That's a problem that needs fixing.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why it's called high stakes testing, as very few children are held back when they do not reach the goals set into place. I have worked in districts where the testing was truly high stakes. A child did not make the score. They were given a second chance at the test, if they attended a 4 week summer school. If they did not pass that time, they were not moved on to the next grade.

Anonymous said...

There are pressures at any school that you teach. When you teach in an under performing school, your pressure is for the kids to make progress and gains. You are given silly programs that you are to teach and have no say in how your students are going to improve. You are not able to use creativity or what you've been taught or read about that works.

In a "good" school, you are under pressure of parents to have their children earn A's and question you constantly about their children's grades.

Many young teachers leave the profession, because they are not able to use their creativity and there is too much time spent out of school hours to get the job done. The amount of hours spent after school has greatly increased in my fourteen years of teaching and I now have a computer to do my grade book and type my lesson plans-things I once did by hand.

To have seasoned teachers teach in under performing schools, principals and districts need to throw out the expensive, scripted lessons that they are told are going to help the children pass the test. They need to make attendance guidelines that are followed through on. For example, in Chicago, a child who misses 30 days of school excused or unexcused is automatically failed, because he did not receive enough instructional time. Allow individual teachers to be responsible for the education that goes on between the four walls of their classroom. Use the standards as a guide-not the bible. All for in-depth teaching where students are able to get a deep understanding of meaning. Allow money for field trips that get students out of their neighborhoods and give them experiences that they would not otherwise have.

Spending tons of money on an education does not mean that the children will receive a quality education. Quality instruction that allows for critical thinking and problem solving as well as a deep understanding of the material is what is missing in DeKalb.

Even when I have taught in very poor, low performing schools I have been proud of the type of teaching that I was doing and could honestly say that I would not care if my own child was in my classroom. In the three years that I have taught in DeKalb, I can honestly say that I have worked hard to give my students a quality education while fighting against the poor instructional practices that I find in DeKalb and my child would not be in my classroom. I am tired of surface level teaching being okay and moving on because we have to give a benchmark when I know that my students do not have a clue about the concepts that they have been taught.

I would say that turnover this year is going to be high among the teachers that have close to the years of retirement across the district. They realize that they are losing ground in their retirement and staying another year or two with less money, more Esis headaches, and god knows what else they'll throw at us next year will earn them maybe an extra $100 in their retirement checks. My very stable school is losing at least 1/3 of it's seasoned teachers and several other teachers who are young and quite good are not coming back. Those staying are frustrated and moral is low. Children will suffer.

The education of the children of DeKalb is in trouble, if the system has as many new teachers as it appears it is going to have. DCSS will get new teachers, but how long will they stay? What quality will they be, when they feel the low moral of those already in the trenches?

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I am not frustrated or complaining about the decrease in my pay. I am thankful to have a job and know that there are many who would love to be able to go to work every day.

I am frustrated that Dr. Lewis received a raise, an expense increase and his retirement padded. I am also frustrated that money is constantly misspent-Esis, a wellness program that is not needed in a time of economic crisis, leaking roofs of so many school buildings, schools that are not full and costly to run not being closed, schools that are falling apart not being fixed, America's Choice, trailers, educational coaches that few teachers see, administrators that make benchmark tests with mistakes, and rewrite curriculum without knowing what they are truly doing, and raises for people making poor decisions because they are family and friends. I could not run my home finances in this way and expect for my family to stay afloat. When I pay my taxes. I expect them to be treated with the care that I take to make them.

Unless Dr. Lewis and other top administrators who have been in DCSS for many years leave or are not hired back, things in DeKalb will not be changing. A new superintendent is needed to clean up the waste and to use money effectively. This person needs to have a proven record of doing this elsewhere and not be affiliated with anyone in Dekalb.

Ella Smith said...

8:48 AM
Very well written. Several years ago I left the Dekalb County School System as a teacher as I did not like what I saw in Special Education in the Dekalb County Schools as a Special Education Teacher. I saw many of the things that you are talking about now also in the regular education programs.

I was so hoping that teachers in Dekalb no longer felt like I did when I left. I remember the frustration I had.

However, I do feel my two younger children are getting a good education. I am not for sure that I approve of the attitude of many of the teachers my son has at Lakeside High School always. Some of them appear so rigid, and do not always appear to care about the whole child. However, my son does well in school, so I am not complaining about his performance.

It is so important for teachers to be part of the partnership in education and that teachers work coorporative with the administrative staff and central office as teachers you are on the front lines to education. You know if a student gets a concept or not. You know if a program is right for a group of students or a student or not. However, you are not involved in the process.

Instead a bunch of high paid Instructional Administrators at the County Office are making decisions whom appear erogant when citizens from the community try to engage in conversation with her/them. It is sad.

I am sorry you feel like this. I am sorry that you are not respected more as an educator. I have heard school board members talk about how important teachers were and then when they were elected they voted for a raise for the school superintendent and a reduction in benifit and pay for other employees. Something is wrong with what they said and then what they did when they were elected. However, as I am said many times I do have have access to the information that the school board members have when they make decisions. None of us do so it is unfair not to see this as we dislike decisions that are made.

Anonymous said...

I’ve taught at high performing and low performing schools. There are pressures in both, however the stressors on teachers in low performing schools are infinitely greater. The turnover in the high performing schools is nothing like the teacher turnover in the low performing schools.

Obtaining supplies in low performing schools is difficult since many low performing schools are located in low income areas. Some high performing schools in DeKalb have $100,000+ annual PTA budgets. When a teacher says he needs equipment or supplies, the PTA funds his request. Vanderlyn and Austin Elementary Schools are prime examples of high performing schools with wealthy PTAs. Their PTAs have been buying and installing interactive whiteboards for years for teachers who demonstrated how they would use the boards. They have an abundance of working equipment that the teachers have chosen and much praise for their high performing students.

Title I funds are supposed to balance the equation, however Title I funds are fraught with politics. Central Office Title I personnel and the superintendent have budgetary control over dispersal of these funds. For example, the program Springboard was originally funded under Title I for middle school teachers in Title I schools and later extended to all middle schools. Ask any DeKalb County middle school teacher his/her opinion of Springboard. Most of them don’t like to teach with the Springboard program since its scripted teaching model leaves little room for creativity or teaching style differences.

The one-size-fits-all model is perpetuated by the bloated and top-heavy administration in DeKalb County. The millions of Splost III dollars spent on interactive whiteboards was standardized resulting in boards being given to many teachers who did not request or use them. Other teachers who would have used the boards didn’t receive them. The installation of the boards wasn’t smooth, and this added to the perception of ineptitude on the part of MIS, another layer of bureaucracy in the county. Contrast this to the way most interactive boards were procured, installed, and used in Austin and Vanderlyn.

I taught children in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s, teachers in the 00s, and worked in the corporate world for almost a decade. Students didn't change that much over the years I taught. Primary students are into imagination and intermediate students are ready for the "outside world". Students reading high interest level books "stretch" their reading level. There are many basics to how children learn and the appropriate time to introduce content. It’s the delivery that has changed so drastically. In “low performing” schools there’s more emphasis on scripted learning such as Springboard or America’s Choice and teaching to the test. The ITBS (Iowa Test of Basic Skills) was developed in 1935 solely for the purpose of assessing students' specific skills so that teachers could gain knowledge about the specific skills their students needed to master. The teacher/school measurement brought about by "No Child Left Untested” focuses on standardized tests as a way to measure teachers rather than learning more about students’ respective learning strengths and weaknesses.

The differences in high performing and low performing schools are extremely complex with no quick fix. That’s why I disagree with Gov. Perdue’s proposal. This was tried in the 90’s with Pay for Performance. I enjoyed my bonus as much as anyone, and at the time I was in a high performing school so it was relatively easy to obtain. It didn’t change the fundamentals of the problems our children are facing in this fast paced global environment. Until problems such as funding inequities, a bloated and out of touch administration, giving teachers a real voice, and asking support personnel to align their objectives and performance with students’ needs, quick fixes like these will be like moving chairs around the deck of the Titanic.

Randall Wilson said...

Since the process to measure an individual school’s year-end AYP is tenuous at best, how can we expect an individual teachers’ measurement of progress to be any better.

If a school located in an area with several sub-divisions and apartment complexes, each having over 200 families, has no control over how many students can enroll each year, how can the teacher keep the classroom size manageable? If the student’s attendance and parental support is focused on the after-school activities, how can the teacher expect the student to place a value on education in the classroom?

The process to compute teacher’s merit pay and measure student’s progress should take into account the measurement of PTSA membership at the same school. There will be teachers that exceed expectations in schools with lower PTSA involvement, and their merit pay should be higher, but what is considered a level playing field?

I think we need a system to measure how each teacher pours their experience/education into their lesson plan and not just the number of certificates collected. Pay bonus money for the awards and accolades they receive, and for the awards and accolades their students and clubs receive. Pay teaches twice a month!

We need the administrators in the school system to knock down the obstacles and interruptions to teaching in the classroom.

Does the governor’s plan include merit pay for administrators based on the increasing progress of the teachers and decreasing teacher turnover?

Cerebration said...

Very good points Randall. However, the actual mission of this initiative is to access some of those billions of RTTT dollars. The leaders in every state but Texas just can't help themselves - they are like lemmings - going for the money - going for the money - going for the --- aaaaaahhhhh!

One day then, they will all realize that it was a vicious cycle of spending lots and lots of money in order to get reimbursed lots of money. And the privatization will carry on behind the curtain as certain people in the "education business" (charters, curriculums, testing, reporting, evaluating) line their pockets with government money.

And I will bet my goats that the education of children in this country will not improve one notch.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Celebration. Our national obsession with measuring teachers/schools with standardized test scores has primarily contributed to the bottom line profits of the "education business", not to students. Another group that has benefited from NCLB is the tutorial industry - such as Sylvan and Kumon. DeKalb and other systems are forced to pay them millions in tutorial subsidies with no oversight or accountability. Sadly enough, simply paying our tax dollars for the enrollment of students with low test scores in these tutorial businesses is enough to satisfy NCLB (No Child Left Behind) requirements. While standardized testing as a measure of achievement gained ground, not coincidentally our administrative personnel count swelled. We now need extra administrators and concomitant programs in order to track scores and improve scores. The tangential cost of NCLB is endless and continues to siphon money from the classroom.

It is interesting that Texas was the birthplace of NCLB reliance on standardized testing as a measurement of teacher/school progress. When George Bush was governor, Texas was the seminal developer and adopter of this system. President Bush brought this Texas idea with him, and it formed the core of NCLB. It is extremely disappointing that President Obama and Secretary Duncan are continuing in the same vein. Texas is the the first to abandon this line of thinking. Actually, Texas has been chaffing at the NCLB bit for a year or two now, so their announcement was not surprising to anyone who follows educational news. Having lived under this program since Governor Bush, Texans have more data than other states regarding the efficacy of this program, and I would imagine that other states will follow suit.

Parents, when you were in school, how were your teachers evaluated? You probably don't know, but I guarantee it was not based on a standardized test score. As lofty as the idea sounds, NCLB is not about student achievement. Rather it has de facto become a profit center for ancillary educational institutions and an ineffective fix for the complex societal and global problems we are encountering.

Cerebration said...

Excellent comment, Anon. I agree, I am shocked beyond belief that Obama would build on the ridiculousness of NCLB. Shocked.

(BTW-my teachers were nuns - they were evaluated by the Almighty -- and Sister Mary Francis.)