California Educator

April 2014

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Perspectives Donna Kandel Review I N T H E F I R S T experiment of its kind in the state, two California school districts were given federal five-year grants in 2011 to provide teachers with bonuses of up to $5,000 based in part on how well their students perform on standardized tests. The districts received millions in federal Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grants to implement their new evaluation programs, with merit pay a component. Did it pay off ? An exclusive CTA look at this experiment shows mixed results for test scores. API scores in one district went down by 3 points, comparing 2013 to 2012. The other district's scores rose by 9 points. CTA chapter presidents from both districts agree that merit pay caused unhappiness among their members. The first district is Lucia Mar Unified in San Luis Obispo County, a suburban district that serves 10,600 students in 18 Merit pay experiment in California a mixed bag The evaluation component causes controversy By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin schools. Staff at seven schools voted to implement the program, where teachers are evaluated three times a year (two announced and one unannounced) based on the Teacher Advancement Program, or TAP, created by the Santa Monica-based National Institute for Excel- lence in Teaching. Pay raises a r e t i e d t o e v a l u a t i o n s a s well as test scores. The district received $7.2 million for the program, says Donna Kandel, president of the Lucia Mar Unified Teach- ers Association, and much of it goes to pay for master teachers and mentor teach- ers, who receive extra pay to evaluate their peers. U n d e r t h e f o r m u l a , 3 0 percent of a teacher's evalu- ation score is based on how much students improve aca- demically, and another 20 percent on how the entire school improves. Despite the drop in overall school and district scores, many teach- ers got extra money based on individual test scores and positive evaluations, with one teacher getting more than $5,000, says Kandel. Districtwide, the API score went from a base of 819 in 2012 to 816 in 2013. Six out of seven schools had lower scores in 2013 than 2012. Grover Heights Elementary School dropped from 862 to 841, and staff opted out of the program. "I guess you could say it was not a resounding suc- cess, if you measure it by TAP's own metric, which is standardized test scores," says Kandel, who was not pres- ident when this was bargained into place three years ago. "Merit pay has been harmful for morale and divisive. It's created competition between teachers and cut away at collegiality and a sense of cohesiveness in our membership." The evaluation component of the grant has also caused controversy, she adds. The peer evaluations by master and mentor teachers are not supposed to go into a teacher's per- sonnel file, but there is "concern" that these evaluations indirectly influence regular eval- uations under the Stull Act, because mentor and master teachers confer with administrators regarding peer performance. It was not a resounding success when measured by TAP's own metric: standardized test scores. Originally saving jobs was digestible, but paying teachers based on test scores is not prudent policy. 20 A P R I L 2 0 1 4 Credentials and Certificates § Multiple and Single Subject § Administrative Services § CTEL § Education Counseling/PPS § School Psychology/PPS § Special Education: Mild/Moderate § Reading and Language Arts § Child Life Specialist § New Learning Technology Bachelors § Liberal Studies § Child Development Doctoral § Organizational Leadership (Ed.D.) (La Verne Campus) Masters § Educational Leadership § School Counseling § School Psychology § Special Education § Reading § Special Emphasis § Child Life § Child Development (also online) WASC accredited, CCTC and NCATE approved. Programs offered at campuses throughout California. Contact for more information: College of Education and Organizational Leadership 1950 Third Street La Verne, CA 91750 877-GO-TO-ULV "La Verne provided the tools to make me an effective educator." Natasha Burrell M.Ed. Special Emphasis/Credential 2010 M.S. Educational Counseling/ PPS Credential 2014 6th Grade Math and ELA Teacher 14025596 Educator 04 Apr 2014 v2.3 int.indd 20 4/15/14 12:04 AM

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