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Gates-Funded Message Strays From That Of CMS

A campaign led by the Charlotte Chamber to educate people about reforms at CMS released a poll. It indicates broad support for a plan to pay teachers based on their effectiveness. However, some of the group's pronouncements in a conference call yesterday are counter to what CMS officials have been saying over the past year. The poll shows nearly 74 percent of people in Mecklenburg County support some kind of performance-based plan for teachers. But the poll doesn't specifically ask whether student test scores should be a factor in that. Natalie English who manages the campaign for the Chamber says there's a reason for that. "It's not the only or the most important factor being discussed," says English. "So to go straight to that question continues to lead the public to believe that there's so much attention and so much weight being put on just the standardized testing." But CMS officials have made no secrets measuring student achievement through test scores is a central part of the plan. This spring the district unveiled more than fifty new standardized tests. In a conference call to announce the results, Charlotte Observer reporter Eric Frazier wondered whether pollers considered asking how people felt specifically about those tests and the districts plans to use them in a Pay for Performance plan. "We don't know what the plan really is and that's the point of the survey--that there isn't a plan yet. So any attempt to put forward a specific plan is to put the cart before a horse," said Nancy Burnap with the company MarketWise that conducted the poll. "But they are developing one and there has been a lot of debate," responded Frazier. There's one thing the campaign's organizers want to get across. "This is not an advocacy campaign. We won't use these results to advocate for something at CMS. We use this for information," English assured reporters. Carol Sawyer with MeckACTS, a group that opposes Pay for Performance has doubts. "I don't think there is such a thing as an impartial, neutral, no-slant, no-spin campaign," says Sawyer. She wasn't surprised with the poll's results. Sawyer noted the campaign is paid for by the Melinda Gates Foundation, which generally supports Pay for Performance. Related coverage from WFAE series on Pay-for-Performance Pay-for-Performance FAQs Wary Teachers Question Gorman's Plan Teachers Wrestle With Developing Pay-for-Performance Measures CMS Administrator, Teacher, Parent Talk Pay-for-Performance