- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 9, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico’s Public Education Department is unveiling plans on teacher merit-pay pilot programs at selected schools districts and charter schools.

The $7 million initiative announced Tuesday will allow nine school districts and 12 charters to submit their own plans for merit-pay programs, the Albuquerque Journal reported (https://goo.gl/GvsiSP).

Education Secretary Hanna Skandera said by allowing districts to design their own programs, state education officials can explore different ways merit pay might work statewide.

“These proposals are a critical first step in helping us to understand the best ways to reward and thank our effective teachers all over the state,” Skandera said.

But Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein said teachers are already working hard, and she doubts merit pay will motivate them to work any harder.

“There is not a teacher in the world holding back their performance,” Bernstein said.

Santa Fe, Pojoaque, Floyd, Hobbs, Gallup, Farmington, Raton, Lordsburg and Des Moines districts are taking part.

All but four of the districts that submitted plans received approval and the state is working with them to get them approved, Skandera said.

Albuquerque Public Schools, the state’s largest district, did not apply for the program. School Board President Analee Maestas said she wishes it had, but the board never discussed the program and it was an administrative decision not to pursue the pilot.

Because the programs vary by district, some provide extra pay to teachers on an individual basis, others focus on group accomplishments and some do both.

The Public Academy for Performing Arts has a program that awards teachers both as individuals and as a group, said Doreen Winn, executive director. One of the ways a teacher at PAPA can qualify for merit pay is if the school earns an “A” or a “B” on its state-issued report card and the individual teacher is rated “effective” or better on his or her state-issued teacher evaluation, Winn said.

If the school earns an “A” on its report card, a teacher with an “effective” or better rating on his or her evaluation will earn a $3,000 stipend. For a “B” grade, they would be eligible for $2,000.

“I like the group idea,” Winn said. “I think we all need to work together. Because there are too many other factors that can affect an individual’s score.”

The merit-pay pilot at La Promesa Early-Learning Center meanwhile is individually focused and tied to teachers’ evaluations, said Maestas, who is the executive director of the charter school.

Merit pay will be distributed this coming spring, Public Education Department spokesman Larry Behrens said.

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Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com


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