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Pittsburgh Teacher Pact Tests New Pay Elements

By Stephen Sawchuk — July 13, 2010 1 min read
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A new five-year contract between the Pittsburgh school district and its American Federation of Teachers-affiliated union contains major pay reforms, including a revamped salary schedule for new hires and two programs to award bonuses to school staffs and individual teachers who significantly boost student achievement.

Approved last month, the pact codifies the district’s successful bid for $40 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s fund for improving teacher effectiveness.

District and union officials said working together on the plan laid the groundwork for a bargaining process that put student learning ahead of traditional bread-and-butter concerns.

“It wasn’t done by bullying. It was done by a mutual recognition of the need to change,” said Mark Roosevelt, the superintendent of the 28,000-student district. “Over the long haul, we think working with our workforce will show greater possibilities for students than engaging in fisticuffs.”

The contract sets up a new salary schedule that emphasizes teacher performance. New teachers will continue to earn “step” increases each year, but they will no longer win automatic raises for receiving master’s degrees.

Instead, teachers will earn big pay boosts by satisfying a periodic review based on a combination of their teacher-evaluation scores and demonstrating that they have advanced students’ academic growth.

After meeting the four-year tenure mark, and each third year thereafter, teachers will be placed into one of four “professional growth” levels. The most effective teachers could pass the $100,000 mark in as little as eight years.

In time, veteran teachers will have the opportunity to qualify for a career ladder and additional rewards.

The district and union will jointly flesh out the details of two additional bonus programs to begin next school year, one based on schoolwide growth and a voluntary one for individual teachers. The voluntary program could raise salaries by up to $8,000, and participating teachers could opt out at the pilots conclusion.

A version of this article appeared in the July 14, 2010 edition of Education Week as Pittsburgh Teacher Pact Tests New Pay Elements

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