Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Gov. Perdue: Transforming Teacher Pay

Last month I proposed a new plan that will transform the way we compensate K-12 teachers and leaders in our state. It will put them on the same playing field as our state’s top coaches who are rewarded for consistently winning games.

Our current compensation system credits our teachers only for time in the profession and the level of their advanced degree, not the degree to which our students learn. This antiquated practice encourages some of our most ambitious teachers to leave the classroom, and it prevents some of our best and brightest from ever entering the field in the first place.

The enhanced pay plan will increase the early, mid-career and lifetime earning potential of top teachers and school leaders. Doing so will help the state attract, encourage, reward and retain the best talent in our schools. New teachers will be able to earn much higher pay, much sooner. Rather than waiting 25 years for a salary that appropriately rewards their teaching abilities, effective teachers can be rewarded much earlier in their careers. Most importantly, the pay proposal will align our compensation system with the mission of our schools: academic achievement.

We developed the plan for enhanced pay after hearing from over 20,000 Georgia teachers, 80 percent of whom said they would like to be evaluated on both classroom observation and the degree to which they have helped students learn. The enhanced pay model was shaped by our Race to the Top Great Teachers and Leaders Task Force, made up of current and former teachers and leaders with more than 150 years of combined experience in our classrooms and schools.

Already twenty-three local school districts making up 41 percent of Georgia’s public school students have committed to a similar bonus model through the state’s federal Race to the Top application. The state will implement best practices from those districts in developing and implementing the statewide system.

Since announcing this plan, I have heard from a number of teachers, school leaders and parents that are excited about the possibility of rewarding the hard work that drives student improvement. Understandably, many also have questions about how this new system will work.

First, some have voiced concerns that teachers should not be evaluated or compensated solely on the achievement of their students. I agree. The proposed effectiveness measure will also take peer review and classroom observation into account when evaluating and rewarding a teacher for his or her performance. Most importantly, a teacher will not be judged on student’s raw achievement, but on a student’s improvement over time. This will ensure a level playing field, keeping top teachers in low-performing schools and giving teachers in high-performing schools something to strive for beyond proficiency.

Others have asked whether non-core teachers could be included in a performance pay system. I believe that non-core teachers are vital in ensuring Georgia’s students are well-rounded and our schools are successful. Non-core teachers will be eligible for performance pay and will be evaluated based on qualitative measures as we work to develop additional quantitative measures for non-core subjects.

Lastly, there is a misconception that a performance pay system will punish educators who have earned advanced degrees. I wholeheartedly disagree. Teachers who have already earned advanced degrees may remain in the current salary structure and continue to be paid for those degrees if they choose to do so. Current teachers will have the choice of opting into the new system, or remaining in the existing one.

It is time that we align our compensation system with the mission of our schools, for the good of our students, for the good of our teachers and for the good of our state.

by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue
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Robin Addison said...

Mr. Perdue,

I have to say that I am so surprised that you would even give credence to the idea of comparing teaching to coaching a sport. Although I don't agree with either, I especially disagree with correlating teacher pay with student performance. As an art teacher, I am perplexed as to how I would be evaluated in the elementary school level. Will I start giving a CRCT test in art? Is there such a thing? There are evaluating tools for art but not geared for the CRCT test.

My fellow teachers who are in special education, speech therapy, counseling, etc., how will they be evaluated? How will they be compensated? Will everything rest on the shoulders of the classroom teacher? Is that fair? Is that the right thing to do? Are you really improving education this way or are you putting yet another burden on teachers?

It's not enough that we have to deal with budget cuts, no money for programs, supplies, etc. or even paraprofessionals in the lower grades due to the failing education budget of the great state of Georgia. It's not enough that NCLB has put enough red tape around the ankles of education that it's a miracle that education even flourishes at all. It's not enough that teachers and other state employees have had to take the brunt of the budget failings under your leadership that we are forced to take six furlough days this academic year. Now you want to tie the CRCT scores of students as to whether or not a teacher gets their step increase. I guess working in a poor district will be out of the question if a teacher wants to keep their job or ever see a raise (not to mention COLA).

I suppose you will want to start doing the same thing in the healthcare fields. Only the doctors or nurses with the healthiest patients will be compensated more than those who only help very sick or terminal patients. How about dentists, or vets, who work in areas that are in less fortunate areas that may or may not have the money for routine and preventive procedures?

I personally think that you, not having had any professional educational experience, cannot truly make these major kind of decisions. I think that you need to work WITH teachers in education. I could accept this decision more if the majority of teachers felt the same way as you do (let's vote!). You will not find one teacher who agrees, I can guarantee you that. Our job, is not a "performance" based job. It therefore should not be considered as such. You will not retain teachers in our schools of Georgia with this mindset. You can do a better job that using this "pay for the best performance" mentality.

PS_I have been in schools that were part of a grant called "pay for Performance" in years past. I took part in schools that won for four or more years. The money was awarded to us as we chose to use it, in addition to our regular pay. The work that went into it was very comprehensive. That grant money has dried up and it is no longer available. Perhaps you might want to consider reinstating that grant. Perhaps you would get more positive responses from the constituents of the educational fields.

Tiger'75 said...

Governor Perdue,
How can we trust your when you lied about the compensation for NBCT?

The best future for our state of education in Georgia lies in your unability to be re-elected.

Chris Spraggins