Pingerelli: Why I didn’t vote for the Peoria Unified performance pay plan

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The Peoria Unified School District governing board recently approved a performance pay plan for certificated staff members, including teachers and administrators, that will be used to pay them at the end of the 2019-20 school year (“Grading PUSD teachers, administrators,” Nov. 6, 2019, Peoria Independent).

Under the plan, teacher performance pay is based on three components: 33% for performance classification; 50% for graduation rate; and 17% for their teacher/student learning objective score, a specific learning goal with specific measures of student learning.

I did not vote for the plan because it does not go far enough to recognize those teachers who are going above and beyond the requirements.

 More of what is really needed is the student learning objective.

Since we have observed unacceptably poor performance on the state’s standardized tests, our priority must be on student achievement.

The unanswered question is how does performance pay impact that critical issue.

I believe our teacher performance pay standards must be based on a clear understanding of the relationship between teacher pay and student achievement, and be designed to optimize student achievement.

I don’t believe we understand that connection right now and that our current policy is not appropriately optimized to meet our student’s needs; which by the way should be our unquestioned priority.

Rhetorically, are we to believe that student achievement is tied to teacher pay?

That simplistic approach implies that our teachers are not performing to their “highly qualified” rating because of pay, and that they will perform at a higher level if they’re paid more. I think that is an insulting conclusion to draw regarding our teachers. We clearly have teachers who are performing well regardless of pay levels because they are professionals who care about their students’ success. Sadly they are not being acknowledged for their good work through our performance pay standards. Equally sad is that the evidence (test scores) suggest we also have teachers who do not perform at acceptable levels and yet they’re paid as though they are. I consider this to be a fundamentally unfair situation for both our teachers and our students and it is why I voted against the adopted performance pay standards.

Editor’s note: Beverly Pingerelli is a member of the Peoria Unified School District governing board.

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