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Stranger than Fiction: Local Oregon District Declines Grant for Performance Pay
posted by: Alix | October 25, 2011, 06:07 PM   

At a time when well-meaning teachers are working harder than ever, often dipping into their own pockets for school supplies, one would think that a $2.54 million grant for teacher bonuses would be more than welcome. Unfortunately, for the teachers in the 393-educator Oregon City School District, local union interests are saying, "Thanks, but no thanks" to a generous grant in partnership with the Oregon-based education reform charity, the Chalkboard Project, designed to reward teachers through a performance pay initiative.

When the Oregon district won the money last year through a group application with six other districts and the non-profit Chalkboard Project, Oregon City officials at first claimed that in order to bypass performance pay, they would devise a plan to tap into the federal government's "Teacher Incentive Fund" without offering teacher-based performance bonuses.

After being denied by the Department of Education, and failing to agree on a plan for individual bonuses, the district has decided to abandon the program and funding altogether, rather than work toward a solution that would allow individual teachers to benefit.

District representatives including Superintendent Larry Didway insist that there wasn't sufficient time to create a fair plan, despite the fact that the six other district grantees were able to find a way to make it work. In the end, it came down to the fact that union interests saw performance pay as counterproductive to their status quo agenda. "Oregon City will not use the money for teacher incentives. There's no way that Oregon City is going to go there," said President of the Oregon City Education Association, Nancy Noice.

Even the AAE-endorsed value-added model, which evaluates teachers using student test scores while taking into account outside factors such as absenteeism, went too far. While Noice admitted the model can foster collaboration among teachers and schools, the plan still was rejected.

Chalkboard officials are now searching for a replacement district to join with the other districts in implementing these innovative plans that reward individual teachers for going above and beyond in the classroom.

Sadly for the Oregon City teachers, they'll watch other teachers from another district pocket what could have been theirs.

What do you think about the district's decision to reject the grant for a performance pay system?
Comment below.

Comments (1)Add Comment
written by Bruce, FL, October 26, 2011

Good for them. I've yet to see a good pay for performance system. My district is starting a pay for performance system because of a new Florida law.

As a science teacher, half my annual evaluation will be based on how my students score on the state's standardized reading test. Social studies teachers are also being evaluated based on the same reading test. And reading teachers, too.

So, one student's score on one reading test will be used to evaluate the quality of three different teachers.

Daniel T Willingham has a good video showing some of the problems with current ideas on evaluating teachers.

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