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Pact Ties Administrator Pay to Performance

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Administrators in the Rochester, N.Y., school district have approved a three-year contract that includes an unusual system for holding principals and other employees accountable for their job performance.

The agreement includes incentive bonuses of as much as $950 for workers who are judged to be exceeding expectations. In contrast, employees who cannot meet job standards will receive no bonuses and no raises.

"I call it no pay for no performance," said Richard Stear, the president of the Association of Supervisors and Administrators of Rochester. "There are some real sanctions in it."

Tying pay raises to performance, while a standard practice in private business, is rare in education. The Cincinnati district has a pay-for-performance program for administrators that takes students' test scores into account. ("Cincinnati Links Administrators' Pay, Performance," Jan. 25, 1995.)

Under the Rochester agreement approved in late September, the 37,000-student district is setting up a union-district panel to oversee the career development of its 241 administrators. These include central-office employees, principals, assistant principals, and other school-based administrators.

A similar panel oversees the city's teachers, whose contract links teachers' pay with their peformance in several ways.

Adam Urbanski, the president of the Rochester Teachers Association, called the administrators' contract "a joke" and a tactic to pressure teachers into accepting a merit-pay system.

Goals and Evaluations

Tenured administrators will be evaluated once every three years, based on standards in five areas: leadership in reaching instructional goals, knowledge of teaching and learning and commitment to student success, effective organizational management, public engagement and collaboration, and professional development and reflective practice.

During the first two years of the contract, which is retroactive to last July, administrators will set goals for themselves, consult with their supervisors, and compile portfolios of their work. During the third year, two people chosen as reviewers will interview a given administrator, review the portfolio, and make a recommendation about the employee's performance.

One reviewer must be the employee's direct supervisor, unless the supervisor choses to select someone else. The employee gets to pick the other reviewer, who might be a parent, a teacher, or an administrative colleague.

Administrators judged to be exceeding expectations will receive one-time bonuses of $950, as well as a 3.25 percent annual salary increase. Those who meet expectations will receive a similar raise and a $700 bonus.

Employees who are judged to be in need of improvement will not receive bonuses, but they will get the negotiated raise. The union-district panel will help them get help to improve their performance, possibly by working with a mentor.

Finally, administrators who are rated unsatisfactory will not receive bonuses or raises. They will be required to participate in intensive intervention.

Administrators without tenure will be evaluated by their supervisors, using the same standards.

Focus on Individuals

The new system is expected to make evaluations more routine and standardized.

The process also links administrators' performance evaluations to the district's goals for the first time, Darryl Porter, the president of the school board, said.

"I'm very pleased because all along we've been dealing with group accountability, but not individual accountability," Mr. Porter said. "To improve the all-around group, you have to deal with the individuals."

The new evaluation system will be included in future contracts only if the district and the administrators' association agree it has been successful.

Mr. Stear said he is confident the new system will be an improvement over the old one. Most employees were found satisfactory, the process varied from supervisor to supervisor, and some workers went several years without a review, he said.

Edgar Miranda, the principal of Elementary School No. 28, said he welcomed the accountability provision. "It allows you to do more than just go down a checklist," he said. "You can really sit and think about what you do, share it with a colleague and a supervisor, and hopefully what comes out is a solid evaluation instrument that should improve practice."

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