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Districts Work To Identify Top Teachers For Bonuses

Teachers did not get a raise this year, but state lawmakers have set aside bonuses for the top 25 percent of teachers next year.  It’s up to school districts to figure out who those teachers are -- and that’s no easy task. 

Districts across the state have just a few months to decide how they’re going to identify the top teachers.  Those teachers will be offered raises totaling $5,000 over four years. 

Cabarrus County schools asked a group of teachers and administrators to come up with a plan.  Deputy Superintendent Jason Van Heukelem says they’ve discussed using students’ performance on standardized tests to grade teachers, but he says that has its limits.  

"We all believe that it’s more than just test scores," Van Heukelem says. "So while certainly student performances are a big factor in good teaching, we want to capture a lot of the other things like teacher leadership and the mentoring that goes on with young students. 

Van Heukelum says the bonuses are getting a cool reception among teachers whose salaries have pretty much remained the same over the past five years.  In exchange for a bonus, teachers must give up tenure. 

"There’s a lot of anxiety among our teachers and they don’t necessarily trust the process," Heukelum says. "They’re skeptical about giving up tenure and what that means."  

Charlotte-Mecklenburg school officials have long been trying to figure out the best way to evaluate teachers.  The district sent surveys to teachers a few weeks ago to get feedback on how to go about identifying teachers that should receive bonuses.  CMS plans to present those results at a meeting next month. 

Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.