Merit pay for teachers is on its way.
Teachers at 100 Texas schools, nine in the San Antonio area, will earn extra cash this year as part of a merit pay plan created by Gov. Rick Perry last year.
Teachers at the chosen schools will get bonuses ranging from $3,000 to $10,000 for what they've achieved in the past.
They'll then design programs to determine how any future bonuses will be distributed. In the next two years, they'll qualify for bonuses again if student scores continue to climb.
Richard Ingersoll, an education professor at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on merit pay for teachers, raised questions about the requirement that educators, in effect, design their own bonus plans.
"I'm skeptical because it's not easy to do, and it will be trial and error, and it will be only two years," he said. "On the one hand, it's good to engage those it's going to affect. On the other hand, it's kind of tossing the burden to them to figure out."
Teachers often have been wary of linking test scores to teacher salaries, and merit pay has gone nowhere in the Texas Legislature.
Shelley Potter of the San Antonio Alliance said it is open to a fair plan that doesn't rely on one measurement.
"There's a lot of concern that there's an overemphasis on testing," she said. " If you tie teacher pay to testing, you ratchet up that emphasis even more.
"There's a lot of debate about whether that would be a good thing," Potter said, adding that the Perry plan should give schools more time to design their own plans.
Allen Odden, a University of Wisconsin education professor who has designed performance pay plans, said Kentucky, for example, saw results from merit bonuses for about 10 years.
But Odden questioned whether Perry's plan could ever go statewide.
"States aren't going to have programs that pay $10,000 per teacher. Just do the math - it's going to be a couple billion dollars. They're not going to spend that kind of money," he said.
I was alerted to this article by Sherrie Matula, the Democratic candidate for HD129 down in Clear Lake, who also sent me some related materials on the program - see here (PDF), here (PDF), and here (Word doc) for more. One thing to keep in mind is that tying this exclusively to test scores means that some classes of teacher - physical education and fine arts, to name two - can't really participate in it. Perhaps that will be worked out by the teachers themselves, I don't know. I do know that making this exclusive in such a way is bound to cause resentment. Like I said, we'll see.Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 11, 2006 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack