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Gorman: 'We will link pay to performance'

Veteran status, board certifications and advanced degrees will no longer dictate teacher pay at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The district is switching to a pay for performance model. As WFAE's Simone Orendain reports, this is the centerpiece of the CMS 2014 strategic plan that Gorman unveiled Thursday. Superintendent Peter Gorman told about 200 elected officials and community leaders the district will attack the problem of a 66 percent graduation rate with "profound change." "We propose to transform the way we measure our teachers, our leaders and ultimately all of our employees. We will link pay to performance and create standards that are rigorous, explicit and are measurable," he said And that means no more looking at teacher credentials or years of experience- only how much they've moved a student up. Gorman pointed to several studies, including the district's own, which show effective teachers without board certification or advanced degrees perform the same as effective teachers who have those credentials. But Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators President Mary McCray says this plan could make veteran teachers feel like they're being discriminated against. Furthermore, she says a lot of teachers seek advanced degrees so they can earn a living wage. "We tend to think that pay for performance is the cure-all for everything and whether or not it's going to help us beat this national surge in high school graduation rates," she says. "You know nationally high school graduates is a problem everywhere, not just in CMS." Besides, McCray, says pay for performance can only work in states that have teacher's unions and the ability to do collective bargaining. Gorman stressed he wants to make the changes "with teachers not to them." He says teacher input will be crucial on how the district will measure their effectiveness and manage their performance. While state employees in North Carolina do not have collective bargaining abilities, a state law gives special permission to CMS to change its salary structure. This pilot program would make CMS the first district in the state to use pay for performance to set salaries. Gorman says the performance based compensation would be phased in over three years and would eventually apply to all employees starting with himself. CMS has close to 20,000 workers, 9,000 of them teachers.