How do we know which teachers are successful and which aren't? The district has created a new evaluation system. (photo by Elizabeth Lavin)

Poll: Will Merit Pay For Teachers Transform Dallas Schools?

Yesterday on Learning Curve (our new education blog, if you haven’t already heard), Eric wrote about how it’s not the possibility of becoming a home-rule district that is the most significant reform effort under way in Dallas ISD. It’s instead a measure that the school board approved last week: merit pay for teachers.

I’m sure you could guess the basics even before reading the details. The best teachers will be paid significantly more, and the evaluation system will identify the worst teachers:

The program will be watched by educators around the country because it’s designed very differently from similar (often failed) merit-pay plans across the country. (For details on this TEI plan, go here, but bottom line is that a teacher’s performance grade is based 50 percent on classroom performance, 35 percent on student achievement/tests, and 15 percent on student surveys.) Bottom line: this is incredibly important change in the way the district compensates teachers

Do you agree that this change will lead to positive transformation for DISD? Or are classroom educators unfairly paying the price in the name of reform?

5 comments on “Poll: Will Merit Pay For Teachers Transform Dallas Schools?

  1. Giggle on last one.

    But I should make clear (and I’ll be writing about this): It CAN be transformative. But there are huge challenges with implementation and expectation to overcome in the next few years. Approval is only the first step. AND if DISD fails to implement it well, AND if expectations are for some sort of overnight (instead of years-long) effect, then not only will it fail, but it could be used as an example to stop similar reform in other cities/states.

  2. There are two things that you need to look at. First is how you determine the top percentage that get those bonuses. Is it principal review? Is it a 360 review (which is what I would favor)? Is it STAAR testing (which would doom the district)?

    Next is that you should look at the problems with ranking the bottom 10%, discussed here pretty well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitality_curve. After years of ranking and firing the bottom 10%, many top corporations are now deciding that it is not good management theory.

  3. It makes me sad that such a powerful media outlet has a reporter dedicated to such an important subject — the education of our children — and that reporter has already made up his mind about the highly controversial and potentially dangerous methods being used to “reform” our education system. We already have Jim Schutze strawmanning the opposition as some kind of “status quo whiners.” Do we really need a second one? I’m a proud product of DISD and my children are as well, and I do NOT like what I’m seeing done in the name of reform. I think it’s bad for teachers and students, but potentially amazing for the vendors. But you are so dismissive of those of us who oppose Miles and SOPS that I don’t even bother to answer your poll. Again, this is an important subject, and it saddens me beyond measure to see that D has assigned someone to the job who doesn’t see our concerns as valid. They are, and you would be wise (not to mention a good reporter) to listen to them.

  4. Educate me.

    “It’s bad for teachers” — How so?
    “It’s bad for students” — How so?
    “[It's] potentially amazing for vendors” — How so? More amazing than what vendors have access to day-to-day how? I’ll even give you a head start: It will cost $3 million to implement. Show me for whom that will do amazing things.