Teachers to get new incentives
The Park City School District, as of July 10, will have more bait to lure talented teachers to the area, but it only plans to go fishing at two schools within the district.
Beginning this fall, Park City will be one of the many school districts allotted extra funds by the state legislature. This money will be used as performance-based compensation for teachers and the exact terms of dispersal to educators varies at each district. The money is a one-time distribution allotted in the hopes of improving the quality of instruction.
Park City is the only district that applied for these funds to use "pilot schools" to test the efficacy of performance-based compensation. Most other districts, around 87 in total, including charter schools, that applied, will test their stratagems district-wide. According to its formal application for the funds, the Park City School District chose to use only two schools so that they could "implement the plan on a smaller scale and make changes, improvements, and greater refinement toward a district-wide program." The application also states that "this will allow us to provide performance bonuses at a level that would serve as a real incentive towards improvement."
Rather than select these two schools, Park City School District will simply open an application process. One elementary and one secondary school will be chosen by an outside evaluator. Each of these applications should identify achievement goals in literacy and numeracy as well as provide a means of measuring success in both.
The criteria for dispensation of these funds to individuals is highly variable as well. The total of $20 million approved for this purpose by the Utah State Legislature will be distributed with relatively few strings attached. In a sense, said Larry Shumway deputy Utah state superintendent of Public Instruction, the whole program is an experiment that aims to improve the quality of education in Utah but doesn’t necessarily demand a specific approach.
At each of the two schools chosen to participate in the experiment, individual educators interested in the incentive pay will have to apply to the district and provide both a plan for student improvement and a means of measuring student success. These instructors will also have to identify professional-growth programs in which they will participate and the effect that these programs will have on their teaching and on the students.
Some 60 percent of the Park City money will go to teachers who have demonstrated improvement in student achievement. That 60 percent will be broken into quarters that include: standardized test results, student achievement based on professional growth plans, evaluation of teachers, and teacher individual growth plans.
The other 40 percent of the funds will be distributed based on collaborative lesson studies, professional learning communities and cognitive coaching cycles. In other words, teachers will be encouraged to find new and alternative ways beyond standard professional growth programs to improve their instructive abilities.
All of these requirements satisfied, the district will appropriate funds evenly among educators. The District even intends to distribute the money to part-time employees on a scaled basis.
Like the other districts and charter schools that chose to participate in the program, Park City had relatively little time and to create and submit a plan to the State Legislature. Shumway said that he was universally impressed with the creativity of the school districts in their ability to turn around the plans so quickly. Although the plans may change in the future, as they were created with such haste, Shumway said that "the main factor is that this is a strategy we hope to use improve quality of instruction."
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