Indiana, Oregon, try market and performance-based pay

Marketplace-based pay is coming to Indiana, at least in baby steps. Some teachers will be paid more for filling hard-to-staff jobs, while others will get paid more for student achievement.

According to the Indianapolis Star, the “Indiana Department of Education this week applied for a federal grant to implement TAP, a system of incentives and training for teachers, at 44 schools throughout the state.”

That’s 44 schools, not 44 districts, so the project is indeed modest. But given the grip that the unionized factory model has on public schools (first in, first out, pay based on seniority), it counts as positive reform.

Contrary to the fears that deviating from the union scale means teaching to the test (and putting teachers in the position of being paid for something they can’t have total control over), teacher bonus pay is based on a mix of factors: “All teachers in the school would be eligible for substantial bonuses, according to a formula based 50 percent on principal evaluations, 30 percent on how their own students improve and 20 percent on how the entire school improves.”

To its credit, the state’s teacher union hasn’t blocked the idea, but has left it up to bargaining units at the district level. Still, it can’t quite shake the union model of pay: It “has no problem with teachers getting extra pay for extra duties but grows concerned when some teachers are paid more than others. That kind of system, the union has argued, can lead to abuses.”

To be fair to the union, school principals aren’t always up to the task of evaluating teachers. I believe it was the National Council for Teacher Quality that suggested a need for principals to be trained in the art of evaluation.

Six districts in Oregon, meanwhile, will apply for some TAP money as well. According to, “The Oregon districts applied to win a share of the Teacher Incentive Fund, a relatively small $400 million pot of federal Race to the Top money set aside to encourage schools to measure and reward the effectiveness of teachers and principals.”

Has anyone in Kansas considered going after this money?

Click here for information on TAP, which works in many states. It gets some of its funding from the U.S. Department of Education, with foundations and others supplying the rest.

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