The Dallas Independent School District approved a new initiative for teachers to get paid based on performance instead of their service time.
Dallas ISD Board of Trustees members debated late into Thursday night the potential benefits and drawbacks of implementing the "Teacher Excellence Initiative," which would institute a merit-based evaluation and pay schedule for more than 10,000 teachers within the district.
Teachers would be evaluated on three criteria: student achievement, in-class evaluations of the teacher and feedback on the teacher's effectiveness from students.
The current pay method for teachers in the Dallas ISD is based largely upon the number of years spent teaching within the district.
Conversely, if a teacher receives a poor evaluation under the proposed new system their pay could be docked.
The public comment portion of Thursday's meeting was a back-and-forth between oponents and supporters of the TEI proposal.
"No teacher got into this profession to become rich," said teacher David McDaniel of Pinkston High School, a supporter of the proposed evaluation change. "But you have the opportunity to give a new energy to some teachers that have maybe become too comfortable."
Others echoed that same notion.
"We are asked to hold students to a high standard," said Rhonda Barnwell, a Dallas ISD instructional coach as she addressed board members. Why is it so outrageous for teachers to step up and also be held to a high standard?"
Hobie Hukill, a Dallas ISD librarian, was one of many educators who spoke against TEI. He, like a few others, raised concerns that the evaluation methods would be subjective and based upon the mistaken notion that teacher quality, particularly individual teacher quality, can be reliably and validly measured.
"Can improvements be made in teacher evaluation? Absolutely, and teachers want this," noted Rene Honea, president of the alliance - American Federation of Teachers Union. "But is this proposal the best way to improve teacher evaluation? Absolutely not."
The evaluations are expected to begin next school year and the changes in pay would go into effect in the 2015-2016 school year.