Monday, May 9, 2011

Law Firm's Analysis of Teacher Merit Pay in Ohio Budget Bill

The Muskovitz & Lemmerbrock law firm recently wrote their analysis of Ohio HB153 for the Cleveland Federation of Teachers. Here is a summary of their analysis.

Public School Teachers in Ohio will now be paid based upon:
1) Licensure level
2) Being a "Highly Qualified Teacher"
3) Required annual performance evaluations for all teachers

The Four License Levels Are:
1) Resident Educator (0-4 years)
2) Professional Educator (5+ years)
3) Senior Professional Educator (9+ years and requires "Master Teacher" designation)
4) Lead Professional Educator (9+ years and requires "Lead Educator" designation)

The Four Educator Rating Categories Are:
1) Highly effective
2) Effective
3) Needs improvement
4) Unsatisfactory

The law requires that at least 50% of the rating be based upon the value-added measure if it is available for the teacher. Some of the problems with this measure are discussed in many places including here and here. The second component is administrator evaluations. Each educator is required to have an administrator conduct a classroom observation for a minimum of 30 minutes twice each school year. This unfunded mandate will place a huge administrative burden on districts. The next component is parent and student evaluations. The Plain Dealer's PolitiFactOhio discusses this aspect of the plan here. Finally, whether or not the educator meets the "highly-qualified teacher" criteria is considered.

Matt Mayer, president of the Buckeye Institute, was recently quoted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer for his views on merit pay for teachers in Ohio. He said that if he could further design the pay-for-performance program in Ohio, only one in four teachers would be rewarded with pay increases and the bottom teachers would have to immediately boost their teaching skills or be fired.

According to Mayer, "The real focus on K-12 pay for performance should be on rewarding the top 25 percent of teachers that when compared to their peers excel in terms of the academic achievement of their pupils. And then there is the bottom 25 percent who are below their peers. Get those who underperform help or help them move on to a new career."

And the middle 50 percent would get raises only as resources within the individual districts allow, he said. "Kind of how the private sector works," Mayer said.

The bill explicitly grants local school boards and school board members immunity from civil lawsuits for conducting these evaluations.

Here is the link to the full analysis of the implications of the Ohio budget for teachers that was written by the Muskovitz & Lemmerbrock law firm:

Legal Analysis of Teacher Merit Pay in Ohio Budget