Study findings give Gorman momentum to link
12:00 pm
Thu February 25, 2010

Study findings give Gorman momentum to link teacher pay with performance

The results of a teacher effectiveness study released this week are helping CMS Superintendent Peter Gorman set the foundation for his plan to eventually pay teachers based on classroom performance.

The study found no evidence that advanced degrees help teachers do a better job or lead to improved student performance.

Meanwhile, the dean of UNC Charlotte's College of Education worries that CMS is drawing too many conclusions from the study.

Any pay for performance plan is still three to four years away.

But Superintendent Gorman says results of the study should prompt some tough questions among higher education officials.

"I think this data's gotta drive colleges and universities to ask themselves, 'What value are we adding? And, I think it does call to question for them to have some discussion and thought on that," Gorman says.

Harvard University's Center for Education Policy Research conducted the study. The results are based on CMS math and reading scores for greades 4 through 9 from 2003 to 2009.

"You couldn't say from CMS data that in general having a master's degree or doctorate makes you any more effective of a teacher if you measure effectiveness by increasing student achievement," Gorman says. "So you can't go and say, 'Well, if I want my child's achievement on end-of-grade tests in grades 4 through 8 to increase, I want a master's degree-level teacher or doctorate.' That doesn't happen. It's just flat on average."

The CMS pay system rewards teachers who have post-graduate degrees. The salary scale starts about $3,500 higher for a first-year teacher with a master's degree.

Gorman wants a pay scale that rewards the best teachers in CMS with a system that he says would transform how teachers are measured. He says the Harvard study is part of the foundation-building to developing a system.

It's a sensitive issue for many teachers - and educators

Mary Calhoun is dean of UNC Charlotte's College of Education. She worries that Gorman will make policy decisions that are broader than the Harvard study warrants.

""I am concerned about the current study and some of its limitations. For example, the data that was shared focuses on teachers of records in grade 4 through 8. Well there are more grades than that. And there are teachers who are not the teachers of record like special education teachers, literacy coaches and math facilitators that were not included in the study."

Calhoun says she's expressed her concerns to Gorman. She doesn't mind a pay scale that rewards teachers for performance. She just doesn't want such a system to dismiss other measures.

Gorman has never said he wants to dismiss those other measures.

But finding the right mix of qualities to measure in teachers is why it'll take some time to develop a plan that's fair.

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