WASHINGTON --If a new commission of government, business, and education leaders has its way, all teachers will find a significant portion of their raises tied to progress by their students. Nationwide, salaries and raises are typically based on a teacher's experience and education.That system "does nothing to reward excellence because all teachers, regardless of effort or performance, get the same automatic pay increases," according to a new report by The Teaching Commission, a nonprofit group formed last year to improve the public teaching corps.
The pay-for-performance idea is part of a compensation overhaul recommended by the commission, whose members include former IBM chairman Louis Gerstner Jr., President Clinton's education secretary, Richard Riley, and former first lady Barbara Bush. The group also recommends an increase in base salary for all teachers to make the profession's pay more competitive; new paths for teachers to boost their pay and responsibilities without leaving the field; and financial incentives for teachers to serve in hard-to-staff schools or take on high-demand subjects.
Pay is just part of the picture. The panel's suggestions also cover university education programs, state teacher licensing, and the role of school principals in hiring.
In Massachusetts, Governor Mitt Romney said during the 2002 campaign and as recently as October that he supports merit pay for high-performing teachers. He also said he supports what is known informally among educators as "battle pay," or salary hikes for teachers willing to staff classrooms in urban districts. The state's major teachers unions, though, traditionally have opposed merit pay, and it does not exist on a statewide level. However, teacher contracts in individual districts such as Milford, Nauset Regional, and Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical have included performance bonuses for all teachers if MCAS scores rise districtwide.