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Paying Teachers for Performance

A new bill in the South Carolina legislature aims to pay teachers based on how well they do their job. But how that performance is measured is the subject of controversy.

State Representative Andy Patrick (R-Hilton Head Island) pre-filed a bill this week--H. 4419--for the 2014 session that would no longer pay teachers based on their years of experience or tenure. Instead, it would make performance by students on standardized tests at least 50% of a teacher's pay increase calculation. Classroom observations by education professionals or other set objectives could make up no more than 50%.

"Anybody who decides to make teaching their profession does so with the greatest of intent," says Patrick. "But we're not all created equally. Some of us have certain strengths, some us of have certain weaknesses. We wanna reward that profession, and pay for performance is a great way to do that."

Currently, South Carolina has a waiver from certain provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind law that require it to evaluate teachers on performance. State Superintendent Mick Zais already has a plan that is being piloted in dozens of schools across the state.

But the South Carolina Education Association is concerned about the exceptions to these situations, particularly because there can be many in a classroom setting.

"What about children who are not feeling well that day? Or children you've only had in your class for 2 weeks? Or students who are chronic absentees?" asks Jackie Hicks, president of the SCEA. "How does all that come into play on how [the teacher has] done over the full year or full semester? You're telling me one test is giving you the information you need about me about how well those students performed and learned in that class?"


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