SC Lawmaker Proposes Performance-based Teacher Pay - WSPA.com

SC Lawmaker Proposes Performance-based Teacher Pay

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A South Carolina Republican lawmaker is introducing his own plan for performance-based pay, even though dozens of schools are already testing Superintendent Mick Zais' proposal for evaluating educators. A South Carolina Republican lawmaker is introducing his own plan for performance-based pay, even though dozens of schools are already testing Superintendent Mick Zais' proposal for evaluating educators.
COLUMBIA, S.C. - A bill prefiled Tuesday in the South Carolina House would evaluate state teachers and base their salaries on how well their students are doing. Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head Island, prefiled the bill after meeting with teachers, principals, and parents.

"The intent is not to weed out ineffective teachers,” he says. “The intent is to identify weaknesses that individual teachers have to provide them with the targeted professional development that they deserve as professionals."

The state Department of Education has its own plan, proposed by state superintendent Mick Zais, for evaluating teachers’ performance that’s already being tested in dozens of schools.

Rep. Patrick’s bill would evaluate teachers based on their students’ scores on standardized tests and through classroom observations. He says one of the criticisms of other evaluation plans is that they tie teachers’ salaries to how their students do on one test, so his plan would look at tests over a period of two or three years. Beginning teachers would be evaluated over a longer time period.

A South Carolina Republican lawmaker is introducing his own plan for performance-based pay, even though dozens of schools are already testing Superintendent Mick Zais' proposal for evaluating educators.

Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head Island, said he's pre-filing a bill for the upcoming legislative session that's aimed at rewarding excellent teachers and providing others targeted training. Tuesday is the last day for House members to pre-file bills for 2014. Senators have another week.

Evaluating educators based on performance is a required part of the state's exemption from the all-or-nothing provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law. The federal Education Department approved Zais' plan in March, disappointing educator groups that said it was unreliable and developed their own.

The state Board of Education must approve a plan before it goes statewide. Patrick says his bill offers another process.

"This sets the stage for having discussions outside the state school board," he said. "I want to find a way to push this across the finish line."

Patrick, chairman of a House education subcommittee, described his bill as "providing a statewide framework" for evaluating teacher effectiveness, while providing districts with flexibility. He did not give details for how his proposal would do that, beyond saying teachers would not receive an A through F letter grade, but rather be judged on a scale of highly effective to ineffective.

The controversial letter grading system was dropped from the 2013-14 testing period.

Zais had said the letter grade was a way to clearly communicate to teachers how they're performing. But educators called it degrading, and the state Board of Education sided with them. Board leaders made clear last year they would not approve a statewide model with that provision.

Patrick said he was unsure how much his bill would cost. Money may be shifted from elsewhere to pay excellent teachers higher salaries and provide the necessary training, he said.

Kathy Maness of the Palmetto State Teachers Association said legislators should leave the issue alone.

"That's why we have a state Board of Education. The General Assembly is not a super school board," she said.

The state Association of School Administrators is piloting its own method this school year for evaluating student progress.

Its director, Molly Spearman, said legislators should be very cautious about putting an evaluation system into law without knowing how it will work.

"We know we have to do a new teacher and principal evaluation system that includes student growth. We're supportive of that. But this affects hiring and firing," she said. "Legally, in fairness to all the teachers and principals, we better be sure the model we're putting in and implementing has been tried."

Patrick's proposal brought criticism from state Rep. Mike Anthony, D-Union, who's seeking the Democratic nomination for superintendent in 2014.

"It's disappointing to see another grandstanding politician with zero experience in education try to dictate how we evaluate our teachers," said Anthony, a retired teacher and coach.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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