NC education leaders defend tying teacher pay, effectiveness

Thousands of teachers march on Fayetteville Street to the NC Legislative building in Raleigh, NC Wednesday, May 16, 2018 during the “March for Students and Rally for Respect,” the largest act of organized teacher political action in state history.

Thousands of teachers march on Fayetteville Street to the NC Legislative building in Raleigh, NC Wednesday, May 16, 2018 during the “March for Students and Rally for Respect,” the largest act of organized teacher political action in state history.

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North Carolina education leaders on Wednesday defended a proposal to pay teachers based on their perceived effectiveness instead of their years of experience.

Teachers across the state have raised questions about a draft teacher licensure model that would replace the seniority-based compensation system with one that ties raises to the performance of educators.

One of the ways that teacher effectiveness can be measured in the draft model is using a formula, known as SAS EVAAS, for assessing student growth on state exams. But State Superintendent Catherine Truitt said it would be wrong to call the new model a merit pay system.

“This is not a model that ties teacher compensation to test scores,” Truitt said at Wednesday’s State Board of Education meeting. “While EVAAS could be one way to move up in the model – move up the ladder, so to speak – it is one way. There are multiple ways for teachers to move up. ”

The Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission (PEPSC) hopes to finalize the “Pathways to Excellence for Teaching Professionals” model by the end of the summer. Truitt said the plan, which would require the approval of the General Assembly, is two to three years away from potential implementation.

Measuring teacher effectiveness

Currently, North Carolina teachers start at a state base salary of $ 35,460. They get annual state raises for their first 15 years, then less frequent raises after that. The scale tops out at $ 52,680, but school districts often supplement the state’s pay.

051618-TEACHER PROTEST DRONE-TEL-07A
Thousands of teachers march on Fayetteville Street to the NC Legislative building in Raleigh, NC Wednesday, May 16, 2018 during the “March for Students and Rally for Respect,” the largest act of organized teacher political action in state history. Travis Long [email protected]

But under the new model, there would be seven levels ranging from $ 30,000 for aspiring teachers who have not yet received a bachelor’s degree up to the highest level where the minimum salary is $ 73,000.

Instead of advancing up with each year of experience, teachers would move up based on whether they’s considered to be effective. Tom Tomberlin, director of Educator Recruitment and Support at the state Department of Public Instruction, said this new model aligns compensation with helping student learning and helping educators become great teachers.

“How can we make the actual structure of our schools more conducive to both student and teacher learning and growth?” Tomberlin said.

Teachers could be considered effective based on their EVAAS scores or on a new “Qualitative Growth Review” system that will be developed for measuring student growth in subjects without EVAAS data. Teachers will be able to use the Qualitative Growth Review results if they are higher than the EVAAS scores.

Another option for measuring effectiveness would be ratings on peer reviews done by principals, teachers and students.

“Under this new model, I would have many different options to demonstrate my impact on the students,” said Maureen Stover, a PEPSC subcommittee member and 2020 North Carolina Teacher of the Year.

Expert teachers

Truitt noted how under the model, most beginning teachers would start at a higher salary of $ 45,000. They’d start there if they graduated from a traditional educator preparation program and passed their licensure exams.

To go above $ 45,000, the model requires educators to receive an “expert teacher” license that comes with both higher pay and higher responsibilities.

Expert teachers would get a proposed salary of $ 56,000, with a $ 5,000 raise whenever they successfully renew their license every five years. Tomberlin said teachers could choose to spend their entire career at that level.

“There’s an incentive for even our most advanced teachers to continue to strive to improve their effectiveness throughout the entirety of their careers,” Tomberlin said.

Advanced teaching roles

Teachers who want even more pay under the model would be able to seek advanced teaching roles. That would come with additional responsibilities such as conducting model lessons and coaching lower-level teachers.

A “classroom excellence” teacher would have a minimum salary of $ 61,600. An “adult leadership” teacher would have a minimum salary of $ 73,000.

There’s no limit in the model for how many teachers could qualify for the advanced teaching roles, Tomberlin said. But he also said that each school district would only receive a certain amount of state funding to pay for those advanced positions.

Truitt said the new model addresses three challenges:

attracting more people to the profession.

removing barriers from entering.

allowing teachers to improve their pay without having to become administrators.

“We’re trying to address the ongoing pervasive challenge that many teachers feel they do all this extra work, which is tantamount to volunteer work, that they are not compensated for,” Truitt said.

Changing the messaging

Truitt and state board members talked Wednesday about needing to improve the messaging on the model at a time when they’re receiving complaints from teachers.

“It’s not merit (pay) as we know it,” said state board member J. Wendell Hall. “It’s not merit like in industry and things of that nature.”

Truitt said that teachers aren’t seeing the model the way it’s being viewed by state education leaders.

State board member Olivia Oxendine said what they’re considering is “innovation.” But Oxendine said they need to address the perception that the state does not care about having experienced teachers.

“Somewhere out there from Murphy to Manteo, there is this feeling that experience does not matter, that the veteran teacher is disregarded,” Oxendine said. “I do not know where there’s coming from.

“But it is being interpreted that experience is not important and being seasoned is not important, and we know that is not true. We’ve got to clear up that message. ”

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T. Keung Hui has covered K-12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school employees and the community understand the vital role education plays in North Carolina. His primary focus is Wake County, but he also covers statewide education issues.

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