South Carolina Superintendent of Education Mick Zais is proposing a significant change in the way state teachers are compensated, as a way to better reward effective teachers.
Zais says right now teachers are paid based on their credentials, their experience, and what type of degree they have. In a recent interview with Greenwood affiliate WLMA, Zais said research shows that after five years of service, credentials have little or no impact on effectiveness.
A number of state teacher organizations are against Zais’ recommendation of phasing out the annual bonuses paid to teachers who have earned National Board certification. South Carolina has paid annual 10-year, $7,500 bonuses to teachers who earn the designation. The recession prompted legislators to limit that bonus early in 2010 to those already in the system. Lawmakers lowered the bonus to $5,000 yearly for teachers who applied after July 1, 2010.
Zais said a plan that rewards the state’s most effective teachers will work to retain more of these teachers whose productivity has proven invaluable to the young minds they are shaping. He said effective teachers have a way of stimulating young people to learn even if the overall school environment may be labeled less than adequate.
Zais says the state must fairly reward its most effective teachers regardless of credentials and experience level, especially those who are willing to offer their services in areas that have less than adequate or failing schools. He said the Education Department would work to address the shortage of teachers in a number of specific areas, especially in math and science.
Zais says he has a rough draft of a pay-for-performance plan that his staff has put together and he has reviewed. He hopes to have to ready to be examined by fellow educators in a few weeks.
AUDIO: Zais wants pay for performance system for teachers
The South Carolina Educators Association cites pay-for-performance plans research that indicates these plans do not have a positive impact on student achievement. The group said pay-for-performance plans tend to be divisive for the school staff and that the Richland School District One’s failed plan after only one year.
Anne Eller of Greenwood affiliate WLMA contributed to this report