Wednesday, September 20, 2000

'Eyes of nation' on school pay

By Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        On Oct. 1, about one-fifth, or 600, of Cincinnati Public Schools' teachers will become eligible for an evaluation under the district's new performance-based pay system.

        District and Cincinnati Federation of Teachers officials explained Tuesday how the evaluation and compensation plan will be implemented after the 3,100-member teachers union approved it Friday.

        Superintendent Steven Adamowski said the district will do everything possible to ensure the system works.

        “The eyes of the nation are upon us,” he said. “We can't afford to let this fail.”

        The school board unanimously passed the plan in May, making the district the first public school system to base teacher pay solely on performance, and not seniority.

        Gathered in a room at Eastwood Paideia School that will serve as the program's headquarters, Mr. Adamowski, union and school board members, teachers and evaluators talked about their feelings of excitement and anxiety.

        Wanda Jones, a special-education teacher and one of the eight evaluators, said the process will make a difference in the profession and for students.

        “We know teachers will be apprehensive,” Ms. Jones said. “We are aware of that and we respect that.”

        Beginning in October, teachers who are in their third, 17th or 22nd year, or those renewing or seeking lead teacher status, will start evaluations. Another fifth will be added each year.

        Teachers face six unannounced, 40-minute visits, conducted throughout the year. For each teacher, two evaluations are done by the building principal and four are completed by an assigned teacher evaluator.

        At least two evaluations will be done before winter break.

        Teachers will be evaluated in 16 areas within four domains: planning and preparing for student learning; creating an environment for learning; teaching for learning; and professionalism.

        Based on their scores, teachers would be placed in a category: apprentice, novice, career, advanced or accomplished. Each ranking is assigned a pay range.

        A starting novice teacher would make $30,000. An accomplished teacher would make up to $62,500. The range matches the seniority scale.

        The compensation portion of the plan does not kick in until 2002, when the teachers union has the right to call another vote. If 70 percent vote no, the pay plan would be scrapped.

        The union and the district still have to persuade more than 1,000 teachers who voted against the plan that it's a good thing.

        “We're telling teachers where their practices aren't the best, they should adjust,” said Rick Beck, union president. “We don't expect changes overnight.”


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