Houston school administrators are seeking board approval this week to overhaul the nation’s largest performance-bonus plan in time for the second annual payout to teachers.
The controversial plan would continue to reward teachers and schools that do better than their peers in raising student test scores. But much more information would be available to teachers and the public about how the bonuses are determined, and teachers in a greater number of grades and subjects would be included in the most lucrative awards, district officials said.
In addition, the 200,000-student district has enlisted value-added-statistics guru William L. Sanders to calculate student test-score gains.
“We think we’ll have a more sophisticated and fairer focus on student growth with the Sanders method,” said the district’s research and accountability chief, Karla J. Stevens.
Publication by The Houston Chronicle of the names and awards of the more than 7,400 staff members who received the bonuses in January raised a ruckus, as honored teachers were sometimes overlooked. (“Houston in Uproar Over Teachers’ Bonuses,” Feb. 1, 2007.)
Many of the changes to the system for rewarding teachers are being underwritten by a $3.6 million grant from the Los Angeles-based Broad Foundation.
The district expects to pay out as much as $22.5 million in bonuses next January.
A version of this article appeared in the September 12, 2007 edition of Education Week