11 Sep, 2011
DES MOINES — Iowa public school teachers wouldmove to four-tiered compensation based on how they perform in theclassroom as part of the state’s education reform package expectedto be released this fall.
Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass and LindaFandel, the governor’s special adviser on education, offered aglimpse Tuesday into what education reform will look like underGov. Terry Branstad.
Key among the ideas is doing away with the current system thatpays teachers more based on how long they’ve been in the professionand what degrees they’ve obtained in favor of a system ofapprentice, career, mentor and master teachers.
Under the proposal, teachers would start as apprentice teachersat $40,000 a year — compared with a minimum of $28,000 per year now— and serve as apprentices until they can prove themselves as acareer teacher. then they would get a boost to about $50,0000 ayear. Career teachers could then become mentor teachers or masterteachers if they take on extra responsibility, but master andmentor designations would be limited to about one-quarter of adistrict’s teachers.
Glass said the figures are just preliminary, and theadministration is still working to see how it might fit in with thebudget. Fandel added that the system would be grandfathered in soteachers currently in the system if and when the new compensationstrategy is adopted could choose to participate, but all newteachers would have to participate.
“Neither years of experience nor education credit is aparticularly good measure of good teaching and that causes us tounder-pay teachers early in their careers,” Glass said. “It alsocauses shortages in math, science and special-education areasbecause we’re not being reactive to the teacher labor market.”
Glass said the tier system was “not pay-for-performance” butsaid test scores would be part of an overall assessment processthat includes peer reviews and other measures of a teacher’seffectiveness in the classroom.
“The first lens we have to see in any of this has to be, is theproposal going to enhance learning for kids?” said Mary Jane Cobb,executive director of the 34,000-member Iowa State EducationAssociation, which represents teachers. “Some of it I can see whereit does and some of it I’m still not sold on.”
Other items that will likely be part of the education reformpackage include:
• A high school exit exam that all students would have to takebefore graduation. Glass said he wasn’t sure whether the test wouldbe “high stakes,” meaning passing it would be a condition ofgraduation.
• The creation of an “innovation fund” where school districtsand buildings could compete for part of a large pot of state moneythat would go to pay for innovative programs.
• Continued alignment of the Iowa Core with national standardsand curriculum.
• A greater emphasis on charter schools, but the charters mustbe open to all students who apply and the charters must be able todemonstrate a need for their specific program.
“Things are going to go wrong here; we’re going to makemistakes,” Glass said. “But it will be incumbent on Iowa and allthe people that work here to learn, adapt, improve and keep gettingbetter.”
Fandel said the administration’s proposal is expected to bereleased by Oct. 3.