School finance commission recommends new “Teacher Compensation Incentive Program”

Average teacher pay in Texas lags more than $6,000 below the national average and about 29 percent below pay in Texas for other jobs demanding comparable education and expertise. The Texas Commission on Public School Finance recognizes that compensation is often cited as the primary reason that top graduates do not pursue a teaching career and that high-need campuses often have more inexperienced teachers and higher teacher turnover rates.
The commission’s recommendation of a $100 million teacher compensation system would provide additional funding for districts to implement “locally developed, multi-measure evaluation systems” to increase teacher compensation and the placement of “effective teachers” at high need campuses. When it examined teacher compensation, the commission heard only from proponents of pay-for-performance compensation systems that place heavy emphasis on student test scores in teacher evaluations, which are used as the basis for determining compensation. 
There is a body of research that shows that student test scores are not a valid means for teacher evaluations, and thus, they are not valid for decisions on teacher compensation. What concerns us most about this recommendation is what commission member Todd Williams noted–that Commissioner of Education Mike Morath would be the one to determine the minimum standards for this evaluation system.
Note that Texas AFT filed a lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency that resulted in a settlement that forbids TEA from mandating the use of student test scores for a student-growth section of the new statewide T-TESS evaluation system. The commission’s recommendation would likely require the creation of a new evaluation instrument, and the use T-TESS could end, which means this settlement agreement would no longer apply.
One of our demands next session–as stated in our petition to legislators–is an across-the-board pay increase for all educators. While we don’t oppose differentiated pay raises based on a fair and locally-developed process for evaluations and/or other criteria, we certainly feel that these proposals should only be looked at after a statewide pay raise for all school employees.