HISD introduces teacher merit pay program

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Dr. Saavedra has rolled out HISD’s new merit pay program for teachers:

School district officials call the incentive pay plan only one component to an overall improvement strategy.

HISD Superintendent Dr. Abe Saavedra explained, “I think that will be an incentive for some teachers. It won’t be for all, but it will be for some.”

The plan is divided into three parts, or strands. The first includes all teachers at a particular school, based on that school’s math and reading scores compared to others in HISD with similar student demographics. The potential bonus could be from $250 to $1,000.

The second strand would reward individual teachers based on Stanford 10 test scores compared to 40 other similar schools. Again, the potential bonus could be from $250 to $1,000.

Same for the third strand, but based on TAKS scores. The bonus could range from $125 to $500.

“Pay for performance will work if base pay also grows at the same time,” said Dr. Saavedra.

Guess who’s not happy:

“It’s got no support from the people it’s supposed to (inspire),” said Gayle Fallon with the Houston Federation of Teachers.

Houston’s largest teacher union says the plan doesn’t start with adequate base pay and has no reliable future funding source.

Fallon said, “It’s going to come out of something, and in all probability, what it’s going to do is rob teachers of future pay raises.”

And Gayle Fallon is ALL about base pay and future raises! I recently wrote a post on why teachers unions don’t like merit pay — it boils down to power and money. The union doesn’t have any say in how merit pay is handed out, so it has less power; and merit pay isn’t a part of a teacher’s salary, which means union dues can’t be taken out of it.

Merit pay works in the private sector, and it will work in government schools, too. There may be some kinks to work out and some rough patches here and there, but overall the idea is a good step toward rewarding good teachers for doing a good job.

Pay no mind to Gayle Fallon.

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Anne Linehan is a co-founder of blogHOUSTON.