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Memphis Eyes Merit-Pay System

Shelby County Schools—Tennessee's largest school district, which encompasses Memphis—has struggled to keep veteran, highly effective teachers in its classrooms. In an effort to retain those educators,  Shelby County Superintendent Dorsey Hopson is taking another stab at bringing a merit-pay system to the district. Under the new plan, teachers would have to score at least a 3 on the state's five-point rating system to get a raise. District leaders say 90 percent of teachers hit that mark, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal

Teachers would be able to earn annual raises of up to $1,500 based on those scores, with the salary schedule topping out at $73,000. The district hopes to keep good teachers by allowing them to reach that salary maximum faster than they could in surrounding districts using more traditional pay scales.  The proposal also allows for bonuses for teachers with advanced degrees and those who work in hard-to-staff subjects like math, science, and special education. The district expects the new system would cost $10.7 million in implementation costs during the 2017-2018 school year.

Trinette Small, the chief of human resources at Shelby County Schools, said the move is necessary to stem the flood of good teachers out of the district.

Small shared exit-survey data with the school board, reports education news website Chalkbeat Tennessee. According to Small, a quarter of the high-performing teachers who exited the district left over pay, and most of those who left had 4's on the rating system.

Chalkbeat reports that the proposal, which also addresses a kink in the pay scale whereby some teachers new to the district get paid more than current teachers with the same level of experience, has garnered the support of school board members as well as the district's teacher union leaders.


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