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DALLAS -- When DISD Superintendent Mike Miles proposed revolutionizing the traditional teacher compensation plan in his district, he knew he'd strike a nerve. And did he.

For about an hour Thursday night, the board heard from teachers, who were almost evenly split on the issue. Then, the board spent almost two hours discussing the issue themselves. Just before midnight, Miles' plan, called the Teacher Excellence Initiative (TEI), passed with a 7-2 vote.

Teachers had been paid based on a traditional system of tenure, seniority, and level of education. But the TEI plan changes that to pay based on performance. Salaries will be determined by a combination of classroom evaluations, student test scores, and student surveys.

Under the new system, teachers would be given a grade out of 100 based on three factors:

  • Performance in the classroom would be worth 50 percent of the grade
  • Sstudent achievement is worth 35 percent
  • Results from a student survey would represent the final 15 percent

While there are a number of variables like education and experience here's a look at how the numbers break down:

  • A teacher deemed 'unsatisfactory' could earn a salary as little as $45,000 annually.
  • A teacher deemed 'proficient' could earn between $54,000 and $65,000.
  • The scale tops at 'master.' A teacher in that category could earn as much as $90,000 per year.

Critics say few would ever reach the highest levels.

'When it all comes down to it, students who are the ones taking these tests are not going to perform better because their teacher's salary is at stake,' said Chrisdya Houston, a DISD teacher who spoke in opposition to the plan.

Supporters say there would be new incentive and new accountability.

'For instance, when the teacher in the classroom next to you doesn't give it their all and doesn't throw their whole heart and soul into being a professional teacher but is still compensated just as I am, that sends a bad message about what the district values,' said June Malone, an eighth grade DISD teacher in favor of the new pay plan.

Rena Honea, president of the local American Federation of Teachers, raised questions about how fair the plan was. Tying compensation to students' test scores is risky, she said.

'Basing high-stakes employment decisions on unproven methods is a sure-fire way to drive off high-quality teachers our students need,' she told board members.

The teacher evaluations and surveys will begin next school year, then the performance-based salaries will begin for DISD teachers the following school year.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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