Q4. Do you think teachers and other school district employees should receive merit pay? If yes, how should merit pay be measured?
The shift in the model of public educator reimbursement toward aligning salary and benefits with those of the general public has gradually eroded teacher take home pay. The private sector provides the opportunity for many employees to earn a bonus for performance “above and beyond.” The only pay increases many folks have had in recent years have been from these bonuses. It is therefore my belief that if the public sector compensation model is heading toward that of the private sector, then teachers should be eligible to receive bonuses as well. How it is funded and implemented is the bigger question here.
Agenda 2017 has included in it a section that includes a very detailed pathway to increase educator and administrator effectiveness. To remain eligible for federal funding, Wisconsin public schools have to create an educator assessment instrument that “substantially includes student achievement as a measure.” Pilot programs are ongoing to provide opportunities for improvement prior to full roll-out in 2014-2015. As such, this would be the perfect starting point for any evaluation process that would result in teacher bonuses.
A webinar available on the DPI website defines the processes being put into place to create a fair, standardized assessment of teacher and principal effectiveness. (1) Wisconsin professionals from every part of the process contributed to creating the prototype currently being piloted in volunteer districts. The rubric includes multiple measures to accurately gauge educator performance. The committee decided that a model comprised of 50% student achievement and 50% educator practices was equitable and met federal requirements. The state has worked hard to create an objective, standardized, data-driven system by which all educators and administrators will be evaluated. The good news is that the board does not have to reinvent the wheel to come up with a fair evaluation tool.
Even better news seems to be that the Governor plans to make a pot of money available for high performing schools to distribute to teachers as they see fit. The board’s role would be to decide how that cash would be distributed, likely by creating a policy to detail the process. I envision such a policy to include something like this. “X% of bonus pay will be distributed to teachers with evaluation scores of Y or higher. A% will be available to principals with evaluation scores of B or higher. Values of Y and B will be directly related to achieving Greatly Exceeds Expectations on the school report cards. (100-X-A)% of the bonus will be equally distributed to all employees in the district with documented exemplary performance because excellence in every area of the district contributes to increased student achievement.”