A toe in the water on linking teacher compensation to student growth
State education leaders began discussing a difficult, once almost taboo subject at a recent state board meeting: should we compensate teachers based on the quality of the job they do?
The Maryland State Department of Education agreed when it applied and got Race to the Top funding to have counties that compensate teachers differently share their practices with other jurisdictions. Earlier this month, a work group of superintendents, human resource officers and union representatives met to look at how five jursdictions have tried to pay their teachers or principals differently. Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince George's, Queen Anne's and Washington counties have all developed new models for teacher compensation. Interestingly, most models have not been put in place because of lack of money. The recession hit just as these ideas were boiling to the surface.
The work group will meet three times and decide what models are worth sharing with other jurisdications around the state, but unlike the new teacher evalation model, MSDE has no plans to mandate or endorse a single model. Recently, New York City dropped a compensation package that was supposed to have rewarded teachers for high test scores. However, many principals simply handed out extra pay to all the teachers in the building, and the city saw no gains in achievement because of it.
State board member Kate Walsh suggested that recent research has shown bonus pay doesn't help keep teachers more motivated or increase student achievement. Dangling $2,000 extra pay in front of teachers to encourage them to do better work is insulting, she said. Rather, she believes school systems should be finding ways to provide really significant increases in pay to those teachers who are true super stars. The idea should be to provide the kind of incentives that will attract the brightest minds into teaching and give them financial incentives to keep them in the classroom.