Oklahoma Educational Entities Praise Certain Aspects of Performance Pay

Article excerpt

If done right, performance pay can work in a way that makes everyone happy. That was one of the messages provided to legislators Tuesday during a hearing on performance pay for teachers in public schools in Oklahoma.

Representatives from Oklahoma universities and technology centers presented data that showed that performance pay was already in place at various institutions, and that it had proven to work when implemented correctly.

"I've been over thirty-five years in the CareerTech system and these are the best teachers I've ever worked with," Anita Risner, superintendent of the Tri-County Technology Center in Bartlesville, said.

The Tri-County performance pay system was created in 2003 and center officials described the teacher acceptance as tremendous since its inception. Deputy Superintendent Lindel Fields said the system created competition among the teachers while rewarding those who stood out among their peers.

"They want to be recognized," Fields said. "They stand a little bit taller - they're a little bit prouder."

Implementation of the plan wasn't without some problems, however. Risner said that some teachers left the school initially but Fields said the school no longer has teachers who don't make the grade as a quality teacher.

One of the keys to the performance pay system will be to make it work in a way that allows everyone to have an opportunity to be rewarded. Marty Lewis, superintendent at Gordon Cooper Technology Center in Shawnee, said it was important that any incentives provided to teachers are also made available to other members of the staff, such as counselors.

Legislators were warned, however, by a national organization of pitfalls to avoid if considering putting together a statewide policy on performance pay. Melissa Rasberry, policy associate for the Center for Teacher Quality in North Carolina, said it was important to avoid a one-size-fits-all system of performance pay, and to not tie the rewards exclusively to student test scores.

"Students are much more than what their test scores say," Rasberry said.

Gregg Darn, associate dean and professor in educational leadership and policy studies within the College of Education at the University of Oklahoma, agreed that teachers provided assistance beyond the coursework and suggested providing some reward for immeasurable achievements. …