Merit-Based Teacher Pay Debated in Nashville

Performance-oriented pay for teachers is being considered in Nashville, Tennessee schools as Joey Garrison from WBIR reports. The idea is to increase teachers earnings if they get more out of the students for whom they are responsible in the hopes of motivating teachers to try harder at their job. The idea isn’t entirely new to the district, but on the table now is a step based system where increases in salary are made based on the results of the state-mandated evaluation score.

“We are not suggesting this recommendation because we think that by paying a teacher more that kids’ achievement will increase next year,” Katie Cour, the district’s executive director of talent strategy, told the Metro school board Tuesday.

Cour goes on to say that the program is there not as an attempt to improve the grades of the students, but to reward the great work that teachers are already doing. The current payment structure does not address the efforts of the teachers.

Furthermore, the plan will aim to move more funds to schools that are performing poorly in an attempt to draw high quality teachers to those schools and in turn improve the grades of the students at that school.

The area certain to be most scrutinized is tying salary increases to teacher evaluation scores through a controversial system known as the Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model, which is being used for the third year in Tennessee and is still criticized by many educators.

President of the Metro Nashville Education Association Stephen Henry has said that the support from the teachers union is there, but the evaluation aspect of the whole setup needs to be address because of the problems it causes.

The plan will operate under an opt-in setup, and the point of that is for those skeptical teachers to see how everything works before committing to the program. The opt-in setup would boost the number of teachers getting on board and help make the plan a success.

School board member Jill Speering, a former teacher of 35 years, applauded the move to retain the significance of degrees. “I like the fact that the plan hinges on culture and support. That’s imperative for this plan to work.”

Additional degrees are no longer required and is not seen as a benefit when teachers are recruited or when a salary offer is proposed to them.