In what is sure to be a lively debate, Indiana Education Insight (8/21/06) has reported that the Governor, the Indiana Department of Education and key legislators are quietly negotiating a bill for 2007, that if approved, would link teacher salary incentives to test scores.
This proposal would create a performance-based compensation system under which teachers who improve student test scores, demonstrate good teaching methods, assume leadership roles, or complete professional development would be eligible for salary incentives.
Indiana Education Insight understands that the Governor has presented a plan to Dr. Reed, State Superintendent of Public Instruction as part of a plan to address teacher shortages and improve teacher quality and retention.
The ISTA (Indiana State Teacher's Association) has historically been opposed to performance-based pay systems and favored more seniority-based pay plans. The lobbying at the state level will be pretty intense.
I personally have concerns if the "pay for performance" incentives are too closely tied to specific ISTEP scores from specific students. Especially since most research attributes somewhere around 70% or more of the variation in student test scores to things outside a school's control.
I might be less concerned about the other items such as "leadership roles" or "completing professional development activities" since one could argue that those things are more closely under the teacher's control. Still, I would want to see the details.
I do believe some type of pay system that is not exclusively seniority-based could have some bearing on teacher retention. Public education loses a lot of teachers in their first 5-8 years.
Dr. Reed is reported to have some reservations to the plan but may be favorable to some type of incentive system in the school areas that report high turnover in teaching staff.
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