Chancellor Michelle Rhee is on an abrasive mission to improve Washington D.C.’s public school system. She is currently working on a proposal to pay District of Columbia teachers based on the aca¬demic achievements of their students. Such an accomplishment would revolutionize the way public school systems are run throughout the nation and possibly have implications for higher education where tenure is still practiced. Her proposal boils down to evaluating teachers on a combination of their students’ test scores, aca¬demic gains, and classroom observations. Successful teachers are then rewarded with higher salaries.
According to the article below, “Rhee’s original proposal for Washington’s schools would have allowed educators to choose between two pay models. In exchange for giving up tenure and sur-viving a one-year trial period, teachers could make up to $130,000 in merit pay based on their effec¬tiveness. Alternately, they could keep tenure and ac¬cept a smaller raise. All new teachers would be placed on the tenure-free track.” While this is a major attempt at education reform, Rhee states that the important thing is to find ways to accurately evaluate teacher performance. Rhee’s business-minded approach to education is commendable and holds promise for models that can be established in other districts across the country.
Education reform has been a popular topic of debate for the U.S. and while Rhee’s methods may seem rash or harsh, the essence of her drastic measures captures just how imperative it is to our economy and the future of our country to reform the dire state of America’s public education system. If American students continue to perform below the level of their counterpoints around the world we can only expect that our economic future will be compromised. We won’t have the people with the skills to do the complex work required.
What bold actions can districts take to improve student and teacher performance?
How can parents get involved to encourage teacher and faculty professional development?
How can more schools and districts apply business principals to measure results and get higher level outcomes from students and teachers?
U.S. News and World Report
December 29, 2009
D.C. Schools Chief Michelle Rhee Fights Union Over Teacher Pay
The chancellor’s efforts to enact a merit pay system could ripple across the nation
By Lauren Smith
In her quest to revive Washington’s public school system, Chancellor Michelle Rhee is pushing innovative but con¬tentious ideas, one of which has garnered her national at¬tention: whether teacher pay can be tied directly to stu¬dent performance.
“So far, nobody has really been able to do it on a large scale,” says Jay Greene, senior fellow at the Man¬hattan Institute’s Center for Civic Innovation. “She is a pathbreaker in pushing it as far as she has.”
The repercussions of Rhee’s succeeding, even in an incremental fashion, are far-reaching. If she is able to pay District of Columbia teachers based on the aca¬demic achievements of their students, she could revolutionize the way public school systems are run across the country.
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