Texas education chief suggests paying higher-performing teachers more


Highlights

Education Commissioner Mike Morath said higher teacher pay could help in recruiting, retaining educators.

At a Texas House hearing, union officials were wary of tying student performance to teacher pay.

Paying quality teachers significantly more could go a long way in recruiting top college graduates and retaining educators at the state’s neediest campuses, Education Commissioner Mike Morath told Texas lawmakers Wednesday.

But Morath proposed an approach — paying some teachers more based on their performance — that was panned by teacher union representatives if tied to student test scores.

Morath said pay is the No. 1 reason why top college graduates are not becoming teachers.

“We know we have to love on those who love on our kids,” Morath told the House Committee on Public Education. “We know the teacher is the single most important … factor that impacts student outcomes.”

Less than a quarter of new teachers in the U.S. come from the top third of their classes and just 14 percent of new teachers in high-poverty schools graduated in the top third of their class, Morath said, citing a 2010 report from consulting group McKinsey & Company.

READ: Charter schools see big enrollment gains in Central Texas

“Our system is not working to bring the absolute cream of the crop into the profession,” Morath said.

Morath recommended the state create a system that authorizes districts to move to a tiered pay plan, which pays more to teachers considered high-performing.

Republican lawmakers touted Dallas programs that boost pay for teachers considered “effective,” based on teacher performance and student achievement, and pays incentives to teachers who work at so-called high-need campuses.

The Dallas program “and its success is being used as a kind of way to back-door promoting of value-added-evaluation for teachers based on student test scores,” said Louis Malfaro, president of the Texas American Federation of Teachers, adding that independent researchers have decried such methods as inaccurate. “It’s important not to conflate intensive work in schools that are struggling with doing evaluation based on student test scores. We think those two do not need to be coupled, as the commissioner seems to want to do.”

READ: Austin-area districts take advantage of new law to start school early

“I’m tired of people coming up here and you’re talking about the research. I don’t give a crap about your research,” said Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, chairman of the House Public Education Committee, speaking to Malfaro. “We’re here to talk about a real problem, … but you’re not telling us how to do it. You’re just saying, ‘Well, you can’t do this. You can’t use this metric.’ But you’re not telling us what to do.”

Differentiated pay is worth consideration, Malfaro responded, but he recommended increasing the amount of money the state spends per student and earmarking part of the increased funding for pay raises.

Monty Exter, lobbyist with the Association of Texas Professional Educators, said there should be a systematic approach when examining teacher compensation. “You can’t have compensation without having the evaluation conversation,” he said. “You can’t have compensation without having the working conditions conversation. You can’t have compensation without also addressing the pipeline issues. All of that has work together to create a sustainable system.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

UPDATE: Northwest Austin apartment fire under control, officials say
UPDATE: Northwest Austin apartment fire under control, officials say

5:10 p.m. update: An apartment fire that broke out Sunday afternoon and consumed the second story of a building is under control, the Fire Department said. The fire, at the Cahill Polo Club Apartments at 8519 Cahill Dr., was reported to be under control around 5:05 p.m., about an hour after firefighters first arrived on the scene. The department also...
One hospitalized after suffering gunshot wound at Pflugerville range
One hospitalized after suffering gunshot wound at Pflugerville range

One person is in critical condition at a hospital after suffering a gunshot wound at Red’s Indoor Range North in Pflugerville, police said. Officers responded to the call at 1 p.m. Sunday to assist EMS, a Pflugerville police spokesperson said. No additional information has been released, although the incident is not being investigated as suspicious...
Texas Game Warden investigate Saturday boat crash that killed 1 woman
Texas Game Warden investigate Saturday boat crash that killed 1 woman

One woman was killed Saturday morning in a boat crash in Lake LBJ, officials said. The crash occurred around 8 a.m. on the Colorado River arm of the lake, Texas Game Warden officials said. Authorities identified Debra Stribling, 56, of Richmond, as the victim. Stribling was driving the boat when it collided with a bulkhead and a boathouse near the...
Staffing shake-up at Texas Veterans Land Board
Staffing shake-up at Texas Veterans Land Board

Two top officials at the state agency charged with administering benefits for veterans are out, and a host of their colleagues have been laid off — and state officials are mum about the reason for the departures. The Veterans Land Board, overseen by Land Commissioner George P. Bush, offers low-interest loans to veterans to buy property or improve...
Firefighters battle large brush fire near Manor, firefighters say
Firefighters battle large brush fire near Manor, firefighters say

Austin and Manor firefighters are battling a large brush fire Sunday afternoon in a rural area just east of Manor, the Austin Fire Department said. No structures are in danger, the Fire Department said, but the blaze was sparked in dry conditions and triple-digit temperatures. The National Weather Service recorded temperatures in Manor at 99 degrees...
More Stories