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Merit pay system for Oklahoma teachers debated in house



Merit pay for teachers " now being called "performance pay" " is not a replacement for across-the-board pay raises, according to education experts brought in to testify before Oklahoma's House Education Committee.

House Speaker Lance Cargill, who announced the series of committee hearings in August, sat among legislators for the testimony of educators and others during the past three weeks. Among many presenters, education researcher Melissa Rasberry of North Carolina's Center for Teaching Quality, gave legislators 10 "don'ts" when it comes to implementing a performance pay system.

"Don't focus on the performance system as a means of improving your base pay system," Rasberry said. "When you are doing this and looking at this as a way to raise teacher pay but aren't looking at it from the perspective of what the actual base pay is, then it can be to the detriment of what you are trying to accomplish."

In other words, raise all teacher salaries first, and then add bonuses for teachers who excel.

That was not what some legislators wanted to hear.

"The laundry list of what not to do seems to be all the things we seem to want to do in the first place," said Rep. Ray McCarter, D-Marlow. "If we don't do those things, I assume we're going to be told here how to do it?"

Anthony Cody, a national board-certified teacher from Oakland, Calif., underscored that base pay " including across-the-board pay raises " cannot be left out of the equation once certain teachers start becoming paid more for better student test scores. "Ben Fenwick

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