Veteran pay raises will likely hinge on an accountability metric

In the next few weeks, lawmakers will decide whether to put money into raises for veteran teachers — and how to tie raises to student performance.

Discussions about raises and accountability have been going on behind the scenes around the Statehouse, and surfaced during state superintendent Sherri Ybarra’s budget presentation Thursday morning.

Ybarra and Gov. Brad Little both want to make a down payment on boosting pay for veteran teachers: Ybarra has requested $40 million, Little has requested $30 million.

Little’s staff and legislators are talking about what an accountability metric will look like. During Thursday’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee hearing, Gideon Tolman of Little’s Division of Financial Management hinted at one option: a “high-performing endorsement” geared toward veteran teachers.

Little education adviser Greg Wilson has been involved in the accountability discussions for a couple of weeks, and didn’t divulge many details Thursday morning. But it doesn’t appear that the accountability framework will look much like the annual teacher evaluations superintendents submit to Ybarra’s State Department of Education.

“We’re looking at above and beyond the existing evaluation framework,” Wilson told Idaho Education News.

As Idaho Education News has reported since 2015, the evaluations have been fraught with problems — ranging from falsified scores to identical scores awarded to a district’s entire staff.  Last year, 18,485 of Idaho’s 18,834 teachers earned overall scores of “proficient” or “distinguished” on their evaluations.

It’s unclear how much a new accountability framework will resemble the master educator premium application, used this year to reward bonuses of $12,000 over three years. “That’s got to be some of the discussion,” Wilson said.

Teachers had to prepare detailed portfolios to apply for a premium — a task that took some teachers 80 hours or more to complete. Educators and the co-chair of Little’s own K-12 task force have criticized the application process.

On Thursday, Ybarra said she has been involved in the accountability discussions — and said she understands legislators want to see a return on an investment in pay raises.

Said Ybarra, a former third-grade teacher, “We don’t shy away from accountability.”

More reading: In-depth coverage of Ybarra’s budget presentation.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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