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Ga. Governor Proposes Statewide Teacher-Pay Reform

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue has announced plans to support legislation that would overhaul the statewide teacher-salary schedule and allow teachers to opt into one that determines pay partly on performance-based measures.

States have tried to do statewide performance-pay before, but this example stands out because it sounds as though it would fundamentally restructure how the salary schedule operates. Teachers opting in would no longer get supplements for advanced degrees, which have only weak correlations to student performance. Instead, they would win additional compensation based on observations of teachers and growth of student performance to determine teacher effectiveness and base compensation on those results.

The plan would go into effect in 2013, and current teachers could "opt into" the plan or remain on the current salary schedule. Teachers hired after Jan. 1, 2014, would automatically be enrolled in the system.

The bill would apparently be linked to the state's Race to the Top Fund application in that the state board of education would draw from examples of performance-pay systems developed through Race to the Top funding.

It's an interesting proposal, and the press release mentions that it would allow new teachers to earn much higher salaries than they typically earn. I wrote a story about that issue not too long ago.

Questions still remain. According to one story, 50 percent of compensation would be based on student growth measures but it's unclear what those will be. And it's also not clear whether pay would be variable from year to year (i.e., if you were deemed effective one year and ineffective the next, would you lose money?) And, of course, this has to pass the legislature. There will surely be opponents who want to sink the idea.

Other states with statewide salary schedules include Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and West Virginia. In most states, salary schedules are locally bargained.

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