NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee education officials are again discussing the possibility of tying teacher pay to test scores.
The Tennessean reports the discussion at a recent State Board of Education meeting came in the wake of new research that found no correlation between teacher effectiveness and experience or advanced degrees.
The finding led board to ask staff to come up with a plan that ties teacher pay to the test scores of students.
“I think we’ve got to ask the department to take a look at this data and come back to us with a better alignment of pay and performance — a pay system that is based more on performance than some of these other factors,” said board Chairman B. Fielding Rolston.
The idea, which has been discussed before, has met opposition form teachers’ unions.
Gera Summerford, president of the state’s teacher union and largest professional organization, says more research is needed before making changes in the current pay structure.
“Pay for test scores is extremely risky,” she said, noting that the study cited only included 35 percent of teachers in the state. Other teachers don’t teach subjects measured by standardized tests.
The study of teacher evaluations for the 2011-12 school year was conducted by department staff, and it used an increase in test scores as a measure of teacher effectiveness.
The findings indicated that teachers with less than five years of experience, on average, were as likely as those with 20 years of experience to help students increase scores. The study also found that on average those with only a bachelor’s degree were just as successful at helping students increase scores as teachers with master’s or doctoral degrees.
“The fact that the evidence doesn’t show teachers getting better over time is an indictment of professional development,” said Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman.
Huffman said he doesn’t think extra pay for teachers should be mandated for factors that do not drive student performance.