Monday, April 25, 2011

Dissection of Performance Pay for Teachers in Ohio Senate Bill 5

Greg Mild, a public high school teacher in the state of Ohio, wrote this on March 3, 2011. He graciously gave me permission to share it here.

The final version of Senate Bill 5, as passed by the Senate, replaced the word "merit" with "performance" measures as a means of determining teacher pay.  The bill specifies 5 criteria.  I have copied the language from the bill and noted the page numbers below for easy referencing.  For easy reading, I have removed all redacted text. All five criteria are unsuitable to be included into law.

First, view Senate Bill 5 (as passed by the Senate on March 2, 2011)

3) Each city, exempted village, local, and joint vocational school district shall pay teachers' salaries based upon performance as required under section 3317.13 of the Revised Code.
p. 113

Sec. 3317.13
(A) As used in this section "teacher" means all teachers employed by the board of education of any school district, including any cooperative education or joint vocational school district and all teachers employed by any educational service center governing board.
(B) Each teacher shall be paid a salary based upon performance as described in section 3317.13 of the Revised Code. [the redundancy of the section number being repeated is an addition to the Code]
(C) For purposes of this section, a board shall measure a teacher's performance by considering all of the following:
(1) The level of license issued under section 3319.22 of the Revised Code that the teacher holds;
(2) Whether the teacher is a "highly qualified teacher" as defined in section 3319.074 of the Revised Code;
(3) The value-added measure the board uses to determine the performance of the students assigned to the teacher's classroom;
(4) The results of the teacher's performance evaluations conducted under section 3319.111 of the Revised Code, any peer review program created by an agreement entered into by a board of education and representatives of teachers employed by that board, or any other system of evaluation used by the board;
(5) Any other criteria established by the board.
pp. 151-154

For beginners, please note that C states "shall measure a teacher's performance by considering all of the following."  Not some, not those that apply, but ALL.

  1. Licensure.  The inclusion of this item into law implicitly places a value on experience.  The progression of licenses under update state law includes limitations that set minimum years of experience.  A teacher cannot obtain a professional license with fewer than 4 years of experience (regardless of performance).  A teacher cannot obtain either the Lead Professional or Senior Professional licenses with fewer than 9 years of experience (regardless of performance or credentials).  Therefore, by applying differing dollar values to these licenses, the bill is assigning a dollar value on experience, a specific provision the bill was intended to remove.  In addition, a teacher who holds a permanent certificate will have at least 20 years of experience (since discontinued).  An individual holding an 8-year certificates will have at least 9 years of experience (since discontinued).  Again, these certificates will place a value on experience, a specific provision the bill was intended to remove.  Many teachers hold multiple licenses, but are typically (and technically) only teaching under one at a time (e.g., a high school counselor with an English license).  Will the teacher be credited for the higher valued license if there is a premium?  The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards requires a minimum of three years of teaching experience before applying for National Board Certification.  To become licensed as a principal in the state of Ohio, you must hold a valid teaching license and have three years of teaching experience under that license.  These are just a couple of examples.  Experience matters.
  2. Highly Qualified Teacher.  A teacher is required to report their HQT status for the courses they are on record for teaching.  Immediately, this excludes many educators from this category.  In Columbus, nurses, social workers, counselors, resource teachers, some intervention specialists, coordinators, etc., do not qualify.  As a result, many of these educators would be unable to meet ALL of the performance requirements.  But better yet, how about this text from the Ohio Department of Education's HQT Toolkit: "Newly hired and veteran teachers must satisfy the definition of a Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT). Veteran teachers must have been HQT by the end of the 2005-2006 school year. Federal regulations require that new and newly hired teachers be highly qualified at the time of hire."  Did you catch that?  It is against FEDERAL REGULATIONS to employ teachers that are not highly qualified.This performance measure is irrelevant.
  3. Value-Added Measures.  Value-added measures are not recommended for use in the evaluation of teacher performance.  Numerous published studies and editorials can be obtained quickly by searching the term in Google.  Here's one with some pretty reputable authors:    Of equal or greater interest to me is the fact that only 30% of teachers in Columbus are currently in positions that might have value-added data.  Even if Ohio tried to expand standardized testing to all grades and all subjects, we are still excluding all of non-core teachers and the educators already mentioned in the HQT information.  I don't think the creating of assessments for all grades and subjects will be in the budget this year.
  4. Performance Evaluations.  Dig deeper on this item and you'll find that it only applies to teachers on a limited contract.  So, every teacher on a limited contract would need to undergo a performance evaluation as a part of determining their pay.  Considering the other provisions in the bill, this evaluation could be solely determined by the board.  But even if the board works with teachers and implements a peer-review model or principal-review model, anyone have reservations about the legitimacy of either in terms of a criteria for salary?  And imagine the cost time and cost associated with implementation.  Sound expensive?  What about down the road when Columbus has over 4,000 educators involved in this process (since continuing contracts will no longer be issued).  The peer observation method is an outstanding procedure for helping improve practice through collaboration, but it is not something that should be in any way linked to base salary.  It begs the system to corrupt itself and the source of funding to do it properly on a district-wide scale is prohibitive.
  5. Any Other Criteria Established by the Board.  Actually, as long as this means pay based on education and experience, I think it's a great idea.  Otherwise, this opens the door for any educational and unproven fad to creep in and determine salary.  This could also open the door for favoritism, nepotism, and any other bad -ism to enter the equations.   With this 5th option as a part of the bill, there is almost no reason for 1-4 to be included.

I hope you find this explanation useful.  I tried to keep the points brief so that it was easier to digest.  Know that there are many additional points that could be elaborated on, especially in the value-added discussion.  Please share this with anyone that you feel appropriate.  If you have questions or would like additional information about what I entered here, feel free to comment or send me a message.