Union President: Teacher Pay Should Be Based On Observation, Practice

BOSTON — The controversial idea of tying teacher promotions to student test scores has won the support of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the state’s largest teachers union.

“What we’re proposing is that it would still be observation and teacher practice-based,” said MTA President Paul Toner during Tuesday’s Morning Edition. “So you would still see traditional observation of new teachers or teachers who are struggling, and we would be asking for those teachers to provide evidence and artifacts of their teaching practice, like lesson plans, unit plans, student portfolio work, teacher portfolio work, self assessments of their work.

“Although we are suggesting that we are accepting of three-year growth trends of MCAS [tests] as one of multiple measures, the big news story is that we’re saying, ‘Yes, we should be using evidence of students’ learning –multiple measures of that student learning — as part of the teacher evaluation system,’ ” Toner said.


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  • Janet Bargar

    This proposal does not represent the will of its union members. MTA members voted against these proposals last spring at their annual meeting. The union leadership is renegade with respect to this issue.

  • http://yourmiddleschooler.blogspot.com/ Teresa S

    Almost 25 years of teaching and I have never know a teacher to get “promoted”. Teachers get tenure, they might even have some seniority so they might get their choice of which grades they teach (not always depending on school needs). Beyond that they take classes and move up the pay ladder or they work a lot of years and slowly move up the pay ladder. Teachers have to get different training and certification to become administrators. Unless you consider moving from grade to grade a promotion, most teachers make lateral moves or take on more responsibility without increased compensation.

  • Sue D

    Ditto what Janet said. There is no logical or fair way to include test data in teacher evaluations, and the majority of union members do not support the use of this data, regardless of other measures used.

    Use of this data penalizes teachers who work in the most challenging districts and/or classrooms with impoverished students, English as a second language learners, and/or special education students.

  • Guy

    What about teachers who teach “enrichment” subjects such as art, music, and physical education (among others)? Since students don’t take the MCAS in those subjects, they won’t be able to show “evidence of learning” in accordance with a Massachusetts standardized test. How will those teachers get “promoted” then? Let’s face it, those teachers already find themselves on the short end of the stick in many cases as it is. This will officially make them second-class “citizens”.

  • Ron

    MCAS scores are just another way of collecting data and, for some subjects, is actually more universal than teacher crated assessments. The inportant thing about what has been proposed is that the MCAS scores are only one indicator, and not the end-all and be-all of teacher performance.

    For those subjects that don’t have a test, then there are plenty of other measuers to evaluate student succeess. For 99% of teachers, these evaluations would have no direct effect on compensation.

    Are there concessions here? Of course, but it is nothing like other states who are now using these test scores as 50% of teacher evaluations.

    For once, the MTA is ahead of an issue instead of waiting to react to something that could destroy the teaching profession in MA.

  • Lisa Sama

    What about the parents? Shouldn’t they be held accountable for their children who are always absent, tardy, and/or never do homework?

  • Karen O’Leary

    Data from well crafted assessments is an important way to inform instruction. Math teachers have been using data from their own assessments and state assessments to shape teaching for years. Good math teachers are in demand. Their job is always under fire since many people think that kids and young adults “can’t do math.” Parents expect math teachers to be tutors (without pay) before, during, and after school while they do not expect the same for teachers of most other disciplines. So, if they get good results on MCAS, then they deserve to earn more money than their colleagues. However, paying math teachers more than other teachers could be a “union buster.” I hope the MTA doesn’t blow up their own union.

  • Heather C

    As an MTA member, it concerns me that the MTA will roll out this new plan for teacher evaluation without considering the everyday effects this will have on the teachers. When you are a new teacher, you feel as if there is not enough time in the day for lesson planning and assessing– let alone data collection/ portfolio assessment. The MTA needs to provide specific guidelines as to when and how teachers will complete this assessment. This would require more professional development, and compensation for this time-consuming process. Often when educators leave the classroom they forget the high demands made of our time. My concern is the pragmatics of this move– how will administrators and districts address these concerns. Most of us would agree that they will assume we will take care of it pro bono with all of our “free time”. We should be focusing on providing small class sizes and curriculum development that will reach all of our students, then we would see a rise in the almighty MCAS scores.

  • Sandra C. Cucchiara

    As a veteran educator who has served in a variety of capacities, I am disconcerted regarding the stance of the MTA on this volatile subject. The concept of attaching salary increases and promotions to student test scores is flawed, unless it is a given that all student demographic distributions are equal, including, but not limited to intelligence/motivational levels, parent/guardian support and socio-economic status. Multiple longitudinal studies have generated data reflecting the challenges created by cultural and evnvironmental factors which cannot be modified beyond certain parameters. Perhaps the solution is to provide Skinnerian boxes that will afford teachers the opportunity to control all factors that have potential effects on the productivity levels of our students.

  • Jackie Woolley

    I strongly recommend that you stand up for the teachers of Mass. and don’t allow the health plans and legislature to demand that the teachers give up a decent health plan that all individuals should be able to afford and have in this mighty country that gives so much to other countries but can’t afford to take care of their own. What about the Blue Cross Ex who left with millions of dollars.
    Jackie Woolley

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