Wednesday, May 02, 2007

My Teacher Merit Pay Plan

It seems like every other week there is a new teacher pay reform proposal published, so not wanting to be left out, I figured I would offer my own ideas.

I propose a system roughly modeled on the Air Force promotion system.

Levels: There would be several levels of teachers, and within each level there would be steps based on years of service. Each level of teacher would have added responsibility... for example you might have novice teacher, teacher, teacher mentor, teacher supervisor, and master teacher. Within each level, there would be years of service raises.

Promotion: Promotion between levels would be based on a combination of value added scores (75%) and personnel ratings (25%).

Value Added Rating: The key to the value added scores part of the rating system would be to base it on a 3 year average of scores. This would serve to mitigate the effects of a "good" or "bad" group of students, and also take into account consistency over an extended period of time. I also think that weighting more recent years slightly would reward improving teachers, but a balance would have to be struck.

Personnel Ratings: Since a large part of my program would be to encourage high performing and experienced teachers to mentor newer teachers, I would create a rubric that not only took into account teacher mechanics like control of classroom, organization, use of time, etc..., but that also took into account more subjective measures like mentoring, teamwork, and leadership. To ensure integrity, I would propose that the rating score would have to have concurrence between three separate people, perhaps a master teacher, a department head, and the principal of the school.

Certification and Education: I would include certain advantages to teachers who completed teacher education plans, perhaps awarding them slightly higher pay than teachers who started teaching with just a bachelors degrees, but teachers who started without a degree and proved themselves as competent teachers would catch up to the "certified" teachers within one year. Since most education certification programs only take one year, the only advantage to attending them would be if the program provided the new teachers with applicable skills that improved value added scores. Additional graduate education could also be factored into the personnel rating, but once again, because of the weighting of the value added scores, only programs that "added value" would make the program make sense. Hopefully, this program would cause education schools to reform themselves to emphasize real world skills, instead of concentrating on education fluff.

Tenure: Finally, I would include a high year of tenure program for the basic level of teachers. If after say three or four years, a teacher wasn't able to meet a certain level of performance, they would be let go. Since most studies I have read have said that most improvement happens in the first two years of teaching, this should be enough time to determine who the good teacher would be. Additionally, once promoted to a certain level, teachers would continually have to meet cutoff scores for that level. This would ensure that teachers would have to continually strive to for success.

Goal: The goal of my proposal is to reward good teachers, while at the same time encouraging education schools to reform. Since their would be years of service raises, teachers who peaked out or simply didn't want to take on the extra responsibilities of promotion would still be rewarded for dedication and loyalty to the profession. Because value added scores carry most of the promotion points, education schools would only be able to survive if they could demonstrate that they gave their students a competitive edge, besides for a piece of paper. Reform is on the horizon, I think that my rough outline of a program is a good starting point to design a pay system that rewards high performers and hopefully provides incentives for teachers to excel and to improve.