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Indianapolis Pact Couples New Teacher Roles and Big Pay Boosts

A teacher contract approved in Indianapolis creates new roles for high-performing teachers, coupled with eye-popping salary increases for teacher-leaders worth up to $18,500.

The agreement was adopted Aug 27 by the city's school board. It has already received the go-ahead from the city teachers' union and from rank-and-file teachers.

Under the agreement, base pay would rise to a minimum of $40,000, a 12 percent increase. For a general school or district leadership role, teachers would receive $5,000.

But teachers who are participating in a special initiative, called Opportunity Culture, could make potentially far more in exchange for instructing more students or for leading teams of teachers.

The basic idea is that effective teachers should be able to impact more students, in exchange for more responsibility and higher salaries. "Multi-classroom leaders" would, for instance, would manage a team of up to 6 other teachers and two paraprofessionals, and take responsibility for the learning of all the students taught by those teachers. They would have the flexibility to switch up class schedules and sizes to tailor instruction appropriately. Such teachers would earn between $6,800 and 18,500 extra.

And an "Expanded Impact Teacher" (a $6,800 stipend) would take on a third more students, with help from a paraprofessional. (Think of it a bit like the Rocketship charter model, in which a large group of students divides time between instructional time with a teacher and a paraprofessional who provides tutoring.)

You can find more information on what these roles would entail here.

The Opportunity Culture idea comes from Public Impact, a consulting group. According to the group, six Indianapolis schools are participating, using this coming school year to figure out exactly how the new models will work. They'll implement them in 2016-17. It's not yet clear how many teachers might qualify for the advanced roles, which are reserved for teachers who receive evaluation scores of "effective" or better.

Schools in a number of other districts, notably Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C. and Syracuse, N.Y., are also using iterations of this concept.

Chalkbeat Indiana notes, though, that the contract will likely be paid for in part by withholding salary increases from teachers that don't score an "effective" teacher-evaluation rating. It expects about 15 percent of teachers would get these lower ratings, a figure that's a lot higher than it has ever been before.

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