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State education leaders push forward with controversial new teacher compensation proposal

Superintendent Katherine Truitt denies plans will introduce ‘merit pay’, but critics strongly disagree

With only a few weeks left before the start of the new school year, school districts are scrambling to fill vacancies.

Educators in North Carolina and other states left their jobs in the aftermath of the traumatic COVID-19 pandemic that, at its worst, led to school closures, distance learning, and unprecedented stress and burnout among teachers. increase.

Looking ahead, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that there will be more than 124,000 elementary school and 77,400 high school teacher openings each year for at least the next decade. Hundreds of teachers have reportedly resigned in several North Carolina school districts.

Arguably, the past two years have been the toughest teachers have faced in decades. Parent riots over school closures, mask mandates, and attacks on curriculum by elected officials and others, on top of pandemic-related stress, have left teachers feeling neglected and underappreciated.

Now, there may be another reason why educators in North Carolina are looking for another job. The new licensing and rewards proposal, endorsed by state education leaders, would replace the state’s seniority-based teacher salary system with one that partially rewards teachers for student performance on state tests.

The Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission (PEPSC) submitted a draft to the State Board of Education in April for a new system labeled “Pathway to Excellence for Education Professionals in North Carolina.” . If the proposal is approved and implemented, standardized tests, principal and peer evaluations, and student surveys will be used to determine whether teachers are effective.

Proponents say the new plan will help attract more candidates for teaching jobs, raise teacher salaries, and retain veteran teachers with the promise of promotions and higher wages.

“We are trying to address the ongoing and pervasive challenges that many teachers feel are doing all this extra work. It is no different than uncompensated volunteerism. State Superintendent of Public Education Katherine Truitt said in April. During a state school board meeting.

State Superintendent of Public Education Kathryn Troitt

However, teachers have strongly opposed the proposal, arguing it is an undesirable move toward a “merit pay” system that puts too much emphasis on student scores on standardized tests. They argue that a better strategy for recruiting and retaining teachers is the goal of the new proposal and to pay them a fair wage.The average annual salary for teachers in North Carolina is He’s $54,150. The state ranks 33rd nationally in average teacher salaries, which are far lower than what individuals with comparable education and experience can earn in each state’s private sector.

“North Carolina needs a teacher licensure program that respects teachers’ expertise, rewards professional time, and provides support throughout their careers,” said Tamika Walker-Kelly, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators. increase.

On the other hand, academic studies examining merit pay have shown mixed results. 2020 research (Merit Pay for Teachers: A Meta-Analysis), a study conducted by a team of researchers at Vanderbilt University, Kansas State University, and UNC Chapel Hill is one such study. As reported by the author:

We found that performance reward programs tend to have a positive effect on student test scores when they motivate teachers. However, not all merit pay programs motivate teachers because of their varying effects. Literature suggests that merit pay can increase teacher recruitment and retention, but without incentives, teachers are less likely to stay. “

Educators express deep concern

Justin Parmenter, Charlotte Mecklenburg Middle School teacher and educational policy commentator, writes on the following website: notes from chalkboardhas taken a leading position against new licensing and remuneration models.

“The proposal has some serious flaws and widespread teacher opposition. [to it]'” Parmenter told Policy Watch. “It’s not just Charlotte’s picky teachers complaining about it.”

In fact, the new licensing and payment proposal has been the hottest topic among educators on various social media platforms this summer. More than 1,000 educators reportedly joined Walker-Kelley in a recent conference call to voice their concerns over the proposal.

The NC Department of Public Education (NCDPI) also conducted several regional listening sessions to gather feedback from teachers and found that many teachers were skeptical of the undesirable performance reward system that many educators across the country have. I have found widespread concern about what I see as a back door attempt to move them. was denied.

“By and large, all the feedback they got was negative,” said Parmenter, who combed through many public documents to inform teachers about the new license and compensation plan.

CMS Teacher Justin Parmenter

Teachers question how such programs will be managed fairly, especially when data shows that students in wealthy, mostly white schools are doing better on state exams. I’m thinking

“One of the concerns I have been raised by teachers is who would want to teach at Title I when we know our salary and career advancement will depend on our students’ success on standardized tests. That’s what it means. [low-wealth] A school that regularly gives terrible test results? “

However, Parmenter said teaching in such a school could be advantageous if educators are rewarded for improving academic growth from one year to the next. I’m here.

The new proposal would not only revise how teachers are paid, but also create an entry-level certification system aimed at getting more people into the profession. Her one certification under the plan basically acts as a learner’s permit, allowing an aspiring educator with an associate’s degree to teach her two years while earning a bachelor’s degree .

However, some veteran educators believe the move will have a negative impact on the quality of instruction students receive.

Michelle Barton, president of the Durham Educators Association, said, “This is a move away from the professionalization of education. It’s being done in a very mean, unruly way.”

The new model creates multiple steps by which educators can advance in their profession. This includes “expert” and “advanced” teaching roles that can be more rewarding for taking on additional responsibilities such as coaching novice teachers.

However, Walker-Kelley said North Carolina already has policies and pathways in place to help recruit and retain teachers.

“But they lack the loyalty and funding commitments from the North Carolina Legislature,” she said. You don’t have to start all over again with licenses and indemnifications with a pipeline plan designed to leak.”

Merit pay or not?

Truitt refuted claims that the “Road to Excellence for North Carolina Education Professionals” is a merit pay plan. She told WFAE Radio last month,Charlotte Talks

“There is a lot of misinformation circulating right now, some intentional, some not, about this proposed tariff plan, which is still in the development stage.” notes from chalkboard“And to say that this is a merit pay is absolutely wrong. Merit pay means you are comparing a teacher to another teacher. There is none.”

Parmenter disputed Truitt’s statement in a July 28 post.

“State Superintendent Katherine Truitt continued to insult the intelligence of North Carolina teachers this week, repeating the absurd claim that paying teachers based on their perceived merits is not merit pay.” said Parmenter.

Debates over labels and definitions are likely to prove important in how proposals are received by educators. Less than 10% of teachers were found to agree that “performance-based salaries motivate teachers to work more effectively, attract and retain teachers, and improve student learning.” rice field.

The survey also found that 89% of teachers believe merit pay prevents collaboration in teaching. Only 1% of teachers agreed that performance rewards had a positive impact on teachers, morale, retention, or quality. “

Fighting over access to messaging and records

Parmenter has filed numerous public records requests to learn more about the people behind the new teacher compensation system. In fact, he filed so many requests that the NC Department of Public Education (NCDPI) is threatening to charge thousands of dollars to process future requests.

“Our team worked with other members of the agency to ensure that each request was completed without charge,” DPI communications director Blair Rose said in an email last month. I notified the parmenter at. “However, we reserve the right to make a claim as set forth on the NCDPI Record Request Form and pasted below.”

Despite the agency’s warnings, Parmenter’s efforts bore fruit. Among other things, his request was made by Truitt, a member of the Human Capital Roundtable, a group of state education leaders working to find solutions to the state’s teacher shortage problem, PEPSC leaders, and online media. has uncovered evidence of a concerted effort to stop EducationNC. , conduct your own teacher survey to find out how teachers feel about the Pathways offerings.

When the Public Schools Forum of North Carolina, a nonprofit education policy think tank, proposed holding a focus group to gather feedback on the proposal, it employed a similar strategy of controlling the message on the proposal.

“There are certain things that teachers object to. [in the proposal]but the question is how much of these [public records] Show a concerted effort to market this plan instead of trying to figure out what’s wrong,” Parmenter said. “We believe that stakeholders can provide some ideas on how to fix it, but there are major efforts such as relying on EdNC to not conduct an investigation. is to control and ensure that people receive only positive messages.”