The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Opinion

June 18, 2013

Editorial: Tie school administrator pay raises to performance

Hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars are pumped into K-12 education each year in the state of Indiana. The quality of that education, in large part, dictates whether Hoosier children are well prepared for college and, eventually, professional careers.

Because Hoosiers care so deeply about these two topics — the success of our children and the stewardship of our tax dollars — the performance of teachers and school administrators must be evaluated consistently for quality, and those who perform well should be compensated at a higher rate than those who perform poorly.

New state laws dictate that K-12 teachers and other staffers at schools that receive public funding have annual performance-based evaluations. Staffers are graded as highly effective, effective, in need of improvement or ineffective based on student test scores, lesson planning, classroom instruction and other factors. The higher the grade, the larger the raise — though local school boards can decide, within state parameters, how to divide money for raises. Those judged to be ineffective or in need of improvement must show progress or face termination.

In the old days — that is, before Tony Bennett’s four-year (2009-2012) run as superintendent of public instruction — union contracts would dictate teacher raises pretty much across the board in Indiana. Similarly, Hoosier school systems would generally give sweeping percentage pay raises to administrators, sometimes with little or no regard to annual job-performance evaluations.

While that system protected teachers and, to an extent, administrators from potential personal vendettas from above and other arbitrary decisions on pay raises, the system didn’t work in favor of the taxpayer and Indiana school children because it did not demand high-quality work by administrators on behalf of students.

The Anderson Community Schools Board of Trustees is considering a performance-based compensation proposal for ACS administrators. Such a system is always entangled in thorny issues: How should the performance of administrators be judged? Who should judge it? How can it be assured that administrators are judged fairly? How should the money for raises (a pie of about $60,000 for ACS administrators and administrative support staff for the 2013-14 school year) be sliced?

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