Performance pay for teachers comes back into spotlight

Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 12:02am

Performance-based pay for teachers has been a hot-button issue for many years in Metro Nashville Public Schools so it comes as no surprise that interest in growing in a forum to discuss that topic.

Mayor Karl Dean and Director of Schools Jesse Register are co-hosting the invitation-only event sponsored by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce Education 2020 Speaker Series.

The Friday event will include teachers, school administrators, and representatives from the business community, state and local government.

“Friday’s forum will bring all interested parties together to help Metro Nashville begin to explore the creation and implementation of an effective pay-for-performance program,” reads a statement from the Mayor’s Office.

Performance pay momentum has been building up publicly in Nashville for months.

Dean has publicly called for reforms to Nashville’s teacher compensation system, and has stated repeatedly that improvements must be made in where the district places teachers, as well as in how those teachers are compensated.

MNPS and the Metro Nashville Education Association recently approved incentive pay plans for teachers at five middle schools in the process of being "fresh-started."

Register cited as reasons for the change repeated struggles to make progress in student achievement.

A pay incentive plan was also approved for some schools affected by the recently passed rezoning plan.

These plans may just be the beginning of a movement toward some form of merit pay for many Metro teachers.

And a highlight of Register’s pre-Nashville resume is his work with Chattanooga’s Benwood Initiative, part of which included reconstituting the staffs of certain schools and establishing a form of merit pay for many district teachers. The success of the Benwood Initiative has been cited in education research as evidence of the value of merit pay.

Performance pay was a hot — and heavily politicized — issue in Nashville two years ago. Four private donors offered to contribute $400,000 for a pay-for-performance grant at two Metro schools, Alex Green and Inglewood elementary schools. The grant would have allowed teachers at those schools to earn up to $6,000 as a bonus for increased grade-level performance. The possibility fell through due to failed negotiations between the district and teachers’ union the Metro Nashville Education Association (MNEA).

Since that time, researchers with Vanderbilt University have worked on a three-year study of whether incentive compensation for teachers is related to student performance. Results of that study are due to be reported soon.

MNEA officials have told The City Paper that they’ll consider talk of performance-based pay models, due to their support of Register and Register’s history of community-based initiatives.


3 Comments on this post:

By: idgaf on 8/5/09 at 2:37

How about non performance firings, it would be much cheaper.

By: will1936 on 8/5/09 at 12:03

Sounds like Register knows how to get this done since he did it in Chattanooga . Too many times both camps (business types and union) seem to draw lines in the sand. Register has the good sense to know you have to work with all sides .

By: JeffF on 8/5/09 at 2:10

why work with both sides? If the teachers do not want to be rewarded when they slip up and do good then why should businesses have to pay them out. Turning down the money makes the teachers union look petty and it saves the community leaders a lot of money.