Houston Superintendent Terry Grier said his district must take a “hard look” at its performance-bonus program, which paid $42 million last week to reward about 92 percent of its employees.
More than 11,000 classroom teachers received some award, with the average topping $3,000, while about 130 earned nothing, according to an analysis by the Houston Chronicle. Mr. Grier received $18,000—a little over half of what he could have received.
The teacher bonuses are based on a complex, value-added formula that uses students’ scores on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills and on the national Stanford exam. Other employees are judged by schoolwide performance.
Going forward, however, a looming state budget crunch could leave the district significantly short on funding next year, and put the bonuses in danger. About 30 percent of the funding for the bonus system, called ASPIRE, comes from a state grant slated for possible elimination under the legislature’s recent budget proposals. This year’s bonus payout equaled more than 2 percent of the districts overall budget.
A version of this article appeared in the February 02, 2011 edition of Education Week as Houston Pays $42 Million in Value-Added Bonuses