I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Friday, September 6, 2013

More Merit Pay Flimflam From Newark

A commenter makes a very good point about the Newark merit pay scam program:
20% were rated below effective, which means (.2*3200) 640 teachers did not increase in step. Using the average step increment on the Universal guide 13-14, ($2652) this means they saved approximately $1,697,280. If the bonuses cost them 1.4 million then they are still $300,000 ahead of the game without spending any of the FB money! [emphasis mine]
Let me amend this a bit:

The Memorandum of Agreement between the Newark Teachers Union and the state-run district outlines what happens when a teachers gets a rating of "partially effective" or "ineffective":
NPS shall implement a new educator evaluation system with four summative rating categories beginning in school year 2012-2013. (For  additional  details  see  “Teacher Coaching  and  Evaluation.”) There shall be movement on the steps and remuneration on the scale only by effective professional performance and valued experience. 
o Only educators who receive effective or highly effective annual summative evaluation ratings will be entitled to move up one step on the salary scale. 
o Educators who receive an ineffective annual summative evaluation rating will stay on their current salary step. These educators may request a Peer Validator. 
o Educators who receive a partially effective annual summative evaluation rating may remain on their current salary step. The decision about whether or not these educators will remain on their step is at the sole discretion of the Superintendent who will consult with Peer Validators (see Section X of the MOA). 

o Educators who receive a partially effective annual summative evaluation rating and are rated effective or  highly  effective  in  the  following  year’s annual  summative evaluation rating shall be entitled to a one-time stipend worth 50% of the difference between their new step and their old step as an incentive for improvement.[emphasis mine]
So this is a bit trickier than what the commenter said: we don't know if all the "partially effective" teachers stayed on their current step, and some monies need to be reserved for non-effective teachers if they improve this year. And that step increment could vary significantly depending on where teachers fall on the salary guide.

But the larger point is spot on: when 20% of Newark's teachers aren't getting any raises this year, that saves the district a lot of money that can then be put into the merit pay bonuses -- bonuses that were supposed to be paid out of Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million donation to Newark's schools.

I've said this before: merit pay will ultimately shift money from some teachers to others, using a generally noisy, crappy evaluation system that is incapable of making fine distinctions between teachers. No one can possibly believe that the Newark evaluation system is so precise that it can distinguish between the 20th and 21st percentiles in teacher "effectiveness." And yet that's exactly what's going on here -- with high-stakes consequences.

In addition, the $20 million in Zuckerberg money that was promised to teachers to fund this scheme has barely surfaced; it is, in fact, quite possible that only a tiny fraction of Zuck's bucks will ever make their way into the pockets of "great" teachers.

NPS, NJDOE, Chris Christie, Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, State Superintendent Cami Anderson, and Zuckerberg's FNF are quickly losing credibility on this issue. It is increasingly clear that the promises they made during the contract negotiation have been and will continue to be broken. The only way they can redeem themselves at this point is to allow for a full vetting of the merit pay program.

No teacher's union in New Jersey, or anywhere else in the country, should accept any agreement containing merit pay unless and until the Newark district releases as much data as possible about the state-run program.

Don't all of you agree?




I'm sorry, what was the question again?

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