Largest teachers union backs merit pay - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Largest teachers union backs merit pay

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Wisconsin's largest teachers union is calling for tying teacher pay to performance and instituting a statewide evaluation system that would force poor performers out of their jobs.

The proposals from the Wisconsin Education Association Council announced Tuesday marks a break from its past positions and a move toward policies long pushed for by conservatives. The merit pay idea has been embraced both by President Barack Obama and Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Union President Mary Bell says the merit pay plan and creating a statewide evaluation model can be done without law changes.

Bell also says it's a fair, multi-faceted approach.

"We propose using a combination of measures, including test scores and peer review to evaluate effectiveness based on rigorous standards."

WEAC's proposal includes more intense evaluation of new teachers;   teacher coaching and mentoring;    incentives for teachers to take on hard-to-fill positions;   and the ability to fire a poor performing, veteran teacher after a two year process.

State assembly education committee chairperson Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake) says a legislative proposal on merit pay is being developed.

"Everybody recognizes it's the direction we should be going and that it makes more sense than just longevity."

Madison schools superintendent Daniel Nerad applauds WEAC for bringing forth ideas on evaluating and rewarding teachers.

Nerad says the ideal evaluating measure would go beyond teachers.

"My bias is that I think the more the focus would be on the entire school,  I think the better."

Kestell says he favors measuring student progress rates, instead of strict achievement levels in gauging teacher effectiveness.

Opponents of teacher merit pay have said it pits teacher against teacher instead of promoting collaboration, can rely too heavily on test scores and creates a disincentive to educate challenging students.

Representatives of unions representing teachers in both Madison and Janesville declined comment on the state union's merit pay and evaluation proposal.

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