Merit-Pay Panel To Urge Trials At State Level

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Washington--A Congressional task force appointed to examine the idea of linking teachers' pay with their classroom performance recommends, in a draft report, that every state sponsor experimentation with the concept.

The panel also recommends that the federal government play a greater role in improving the caliber of teaching in the public schools by making large grants to outstanding teachers so they can take one-year sabbaticals, by providing summer institutes for all teachers, and by helping states pay an immediate $6,000 salary increase to all teachers who meet a series of higher standards.

The 21-member task force was established by Rep. Carl Perkins, Democrat of Kentucky and chairman of the House Subcommittee on Elementary, Secondary, and
Vocational Education, in June, in response to several reports calling for an improved teaching profession.

The panel says in its report that the fact that "some of [the qualities of good teaching] are difficult to measure should not be used to camouflage a major education problem in the nation: Too often we are not attracting the finest students [into teaching], and too often we are not keeping the finest teachers."

"The key role played by the teacher," the task force says, "permits the most rapid improvement in education by focusing on that position. That reality has caused increased interest in the question of some form of merit pay." The report outlines two general ways of linking teachers' pay to their performance. Merit pay, according to the panel, is usually a bonus or an increase in the annual salary paid to the best teachers; a career ladder, on the other hand, allows the best teachers to earn higher salaries and take on new responsibilities.

The task force is chaired by Rep. Paul Simon, Democrat of Illinois and chairman of the House Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education; the vice-chairman is Rep. William F. Goodling, Republican of Pennsylvania and ranking minority member of the House Subcommittee on Elementary, Secondary, and Vocational Education.

Other members include Ernest Boyer, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching; Albert Quie, former governor of Minnesota; state and local educators; and representatives of various education associations, including Mary Hatwood Futrell, president of the National Education Association, and Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

The panel is scheduled to consider the draft report this week in Washington and issue its final recommendations in October. The draft, written in large part by Rep. Simon, may be revised in the coming weeks by the full panel, a Congressional aide said. It is presently unclear if the panel's final recommendations will be submitted to Congress in the form of legislative proposals, the aide added. In the draft report, the panel makes a total of 14 recommendations. Among them:

Higher salaries should be paid to all teachers, but especially to beginning teachers, who should be held to higher standards before being admitted to the profession.

School districts should devote at least 1 percent of their budgets to faculty "growth" and development.

The federal government should establish college scholarships for top high-school students who agree to teach in the public schools. "If 10,000 scholarships were made available to the top 5 percent of a high-school graduating class," the panel notes in its report, "the cost would be $50 million per year at the most, a modest investment which would pay off many times over."

School districts should regularly and carefully evaluate supervisory personnel.

The panel recommends that the federally funded sabbatical program begin in 1985 and that the fellowships of $30,000 be awarded to two teachers in each Congressional district each year. Those awarded fellowships would study, do research, or travel to enhance their teaching.

Vol. 03, Issue 02

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