Sunday, May 31, 2009

A better way to merit pay

I've been catching up on my reading this weekend and saw two blog posts about merit pay, via This Week in Education.  

It's timely for me because my school is in the process of applying for a grant to start using Q-Comp, Minnesota's version of merit pay.  Governor Pawlenty is a huge fan and has made a pool of funds available, at a time when the state is cutting funding left and right to try to balance the budget.  

We need to balance our budget too -- we can't be squeamish about things like principles.

But actually, we've found a way to do merit pay that sort of fits with our mission.  Only 10% of the pay increase is tied to test scores, and that applies to all teachers, not to any teacher in particular - so it gives us an incentive to work together.  The rest is tied to projects that teachers come up with at the beginning of the year.

For example, as a social studies teacher my project might be to design and run a class that utilizes oral history.  I write up the proposal.  If I'm successful in my stated goals, I get the extra pay bump.  Q-Comp even provides some funds for materials for my project (such as tape recorders, etc.). 

Teachers at our school who experienced Q-Comp in traditional districts and hated it are excited about doing it this way.  It's cooperative rather than competitive.  I'll keep you posted on whether we get the funding.


teachin' said...

I think that definitely sounds like a better way to do merit pay, but I've heard of problems with that style as well. For example, some teachers set their goals incredibly low so that they ensure that they reach them - that's not really serving the kids well. That's where administrative or peer oversight would need to come in, to keep that from happening, but it would still be a concern of mine.

Still sounds much better than some of the alternatives, though!

Anonymous said...

That is a great way to implement merit pay. I like that it encourages cooperation between teachers and provides classroom dollars to reach your goals.

I still think it is not comprehensive enough. Maybe other measures are included, but not mentioned. Do colleagues evaluate each other? Students their teachers? Parents their teachers? Those methods are all valuable in improving schools and should be taken into account.