Tennessee School Districts Part Of Wave Of New Teacher Pay Plans

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Four Tennessee school districts have joined a small but growing group of districts nationwide that are experimenting with alternative ways to pay teachers, a new report released today by the Comptroller’s Offices of Research and Education Accountability (OREA) highlights.

Alternative salary plans base teacher pay increases on positive performance ratings rather than on years of service and graduate degrees earned, which are the basis for traditional salary plan increases.  Alternative salary plans allow effective teachers to earn higher salaries more quickly than they would under traditional plans. The report, titled Trends in Teacher Compensation: Focus on Alternative Salary Schedules, details how the alternative plans work, what characteristics they share and how they differ from the more common performance bonuses.

The four Tennessee districts – Johnson County, Lexington City, Putnam County, and Trousdale County – that implemented their alternative salary plans in the 2011-2012 school year are scheduled to be joined by three more districts next fall: Haywood, Lincoln and Polk County schools.

Research suggests that the factors used to set traditional teacher salary schedules - years of service and graduate degrees – have limited value as indicators of teacher effectiveness.  Tennessee law requires the adoption a state minimum salary schedule for teachers based on experience and training. However, the law was revised as part of the 2010 First to the Top legislation to allow local districts to develop alternative schedules, subject to state approval.

Alternative salary plans allow districts to recognize more effective teachers based on performance measures such as classroom evaluations and increases in students’ test scores. They are generally considered a more financially sustainable way to reward high-performing teachers than paying performance bonuses on top of traditional salary increases.  The new plans restructure the salary schedule, eliminating automatic increases for all teachers to redirect more pay to the more effective teachers.

The report found that most alternative salary plans, including those in Tennessee, also feature individual or group bonuses for specific objectives such as meeting student achievement targets, teaching high-needs subjects or in high-needs schools, performing leadership duties or completing professional development goals.  The report includes descriptions of the alternative plans in use in Tennessee and selected other districts and states.

Interest in alternative salary plans has been spurred by federal grants, like Teacher Incentive Fund and Race to the Top, and by private funders.  In 2010, Tennessee received grants totaling $72 million over five years from the Teacher Incentive Fund and in 2012, the state received another $5.5 million grant.  The state has also directed some $12 million of its Race to the Top Grant for a special fund to support districts that want to design and implement alternative salary schedules.

Officials in the districts using the new pay plans indicate that the new plans are more complex to administer and budget and require adequate data systems.  Because alternative pay plans are based on teacher performance, the fairness, accuracy and reliability of teacher evaluations can receive additional scrutiny.  Districts adopting these pay plans see them as a better way to target resources to recruit and retain the most effective teachers.

OREA is an agency within the Comptroller’s Office that is charged with providing accurate and objective policy research and analysis for the Tennessee General Assembly and the public.

To view the full report online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/OREA/


Virginia College Hosts Holiday Open House Dec. 6

Virginia College in Chattanooga will host a free Holiday Friends and Family Open House for staff, faculty, students and their families on Saturday, Dec. 6, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., to be held at the campus located at 721 Eastgate Loop Road. Attendees will learn about the educational opportunities available to Chattanooga-area students at Virginia College. Various ... (click for more)

Lee Student Presents At American Mathematics Society

Lee University student Jonathan Clark presented at the fall Southeastern Sectional Meeting of the American Mathematics Society. His presentation was titled “An Application of a Generalized Parameterization of Conic Sections.” Mr. Clark’s presentation took a closer look at the connection between the two- and three-dimensional definitions of conic sections. Using vector calculus ... (click for more)

Grote Hall At UTC Campus Closed Due To Sinkhole

A sinkhole has prompted UTC officials to close off access to Grote Hall. Grote Hall employees have been told they do not need to report to work on Monday. Classes that are held in Grote Hall are called off for Monday. All other classes and campus activities are on for Monday. (click for more)

Bradley County Police Investigating Shooting; Victim Dies

The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a shooting that occurred in the area of Georgetown Road. The sheriff's office said Sunday night that the victim had died. The victim's name has not yet been released.  A BCSO officer was waved down at the intersection of 25 th Street and Peerless Road by the driver of a vehicle who told the officer a gunshot victim ... (click for more)

Don't Be Quick To Discard Common Core

Let's not be too quick to discard Common Core. A recent article in the Tennessean on  Sunday detailed Common Core successes the Kingsport, Tennessee school system.  I encourage you to read it.  The article also noted that Tennessee was recently ranked as one of the fastest improving states in education after implementing portions of the Common Core curriculum ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: UVa --Time For Change

The University of Virginia is, by any measure, one of the finest universities in the world. I have long admired it, whether covering dozens of sports events, cavorting with countless friends, or benefitting repeatedly from the surgical skills of the late world-class humanitarian Frank McCue. But today there is a terrible pall over “Mr. Jefferson’s university” – no, make that a ... (click for more)