A question from Scott, thanks for asking. So my question is what is your thought or philosophy on performance pay/merit pay?
I am not a supporter of merit pay options that are entirely tied to student performance as measured by a standardized test. Though you know that I believe that the teacher is the most important variable in the classroom related to student growth, there are many additional variables that must be considered before tying compensation, advancement, and employment status to a single measure. One of those variables is class size where we are unable to even get close to the level that suggests we should see significant change in academic achievement.
My vision is one similar to that used for national board certification only it would be locally controlled and focused on our Classroom 10 initiative. Teachers would demonstrate proficiency in creating, implementing, and sustaining Classroom 10 learning environments over time. They would become part of collaborative adult learning cultures designed to provide meaningful learning opportunities and support over time. These learning opportunities would be designed and facilitated by staff endorsed in the Classroom 10 model. Teachers would be compensated for additional responsibilities related to this training and support. Teacher pay increases would be tied to their level of proficiency on the Classroom 10 continuum with an identified time line for reaching the agreed upon benchmark for being labeled proficient.
We must continue to focus on the importance of student achievement and we must also find ways to sustain for some and increase for others the current levels as measured by WASL and local assessments. We must create additional assessments that provide meaningful, useful, valid, and reliable information on student attainment of our Outcomes and Indicators and Habits of Mind embedded in our curriculum initiatives. This data must become a meaningful part of adult discussions related to meeting achievement goals at the building and district level and teachers must expect that the data will be analyzed and shared at these and at the classroom level. I believe that we will gain insights from these discussions on what individual teachers are doing that support academic achievement gains not experienced by all students.
If we had the cultures and data described above and the resources to differentiate the learning experience for all students I might reconsider my thinking about traditional merit pay. We know that not all students learn at the same rate or in the same way, yet we still place them in schools with the same days per year, similar hours per day, and limited resources to support their non-academic needs. As long as these parameters are in place and we struggle with class size I choose to focus on supporting teacher growth on the Classroom 10 continuum and leave the discussion of merit pay to those with a more narrow view of what success looks and sounds like.
Next, I will focus on Jonathon’s question. Our school site is considering the piloting of an RTI model to help our District move towards meeting the AYP requirements. What do you think about the Blueprints for Implementation presented at The National Center for Response to Intervention?