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Teacher pay bonus plan explored for Natchez-Adams schools

NATCHEZ — Certain teachers in the Natchez-Adams School District could receive a bonus of up to $6,000 based on a performance-related pay scale intended to award teachers who perform their jobs effectively.

Superintendent Frederick Hill presented the pay scale to the NASD Board of Trustees Thursday following a request by board members in December to research the topic.

Only teachers in tested grades or content areas would qualify, and high school teachers would need to teach at least 72 students in a tested content area to qualify for the bonuses.

“Those teachers are judged by their students’ test scores, so they are the only teachers whose test scores are tied to their performance,” Hill said. “They are really in a tougher position than any other teachers in a non-tested area.”

The proposed pay scale included three different ranges of student scores that would factor into how much additional pay a teacher would receive, as well as an additional amount if those scores reflected a certain growth goal.

The pay scale, Hill said, would use the Quality Distribution Index (QDI), which represents an overall measure of student performance on annual statewide assessments. The scores are represented on a scale of zero to 300, with higher numbers being the better score.

Teachers would only qualify for performance pay if they have a QDI that equates to a “C” rating or above.

Growth goals are goals established annually to determine if teachers are advancing students toward being on grade level. A growth goal benchmark would be set annually to determine if teachers have satisfied the minimal level of growth required.

During the first year, the goals would be set at 65 percent.

In the pay scale proposal, a teacher whose students are ranked with a 133 to 165 QDI, which equates to a “D” rating and don’t meet their growth goals, would not receive any additional pay. If those students met their growth goal, which would bump them up to a “C” rating, the teacher would receive an additional $1,000.

Students who are ranked with a 166 to 199 score, which equates to a “C” rating, would receive $1,000 and an additional $2,000 if they met their growth goal, which would bump them up to a “B” rating.

Students who are ranked with a 200 to 300 score, which equates to a “B” rating, would receive $2,000 and an additional $4,000 if they met their growth goal, which would bump them up to an “A” rating.

A teacher whose students receive a QDI that equates to an “A” rating could earn $6,000, which would be added to the teacher’s salary as an added supplement at the beginning of the following school year.

Board member Benny Wright expressed his approval of the pay scale, saying giving teachers bonuses for higher test scores is a great way to increase student performance in the district.

“Money talks,” Wright said. “If we want (to improve), we’re going to have to pay for it, and the teachers are where the rubber hits the road.”

Board member Thelma Newsome also expressed interest in seeing some sort of performance pay scale enacted.

“I know as a classroom teacher, I would have appreciated this,” Newsome said.

“I did my job anyway, but the incentive of if your test scores go up, you get this bonus would have been nice.”

Tim Blalock, who was appointed as the board president Thursday, asked Hill if the proposed pay scale would lead to animosity between the teachers who were able to receive the additional supplement and those who could not.

“What if you were a Spanish teacher or something, teaching a whole bunch of students and old Mrs. Jones is teaching English, and she’s getting $6,000 and they’re not?” Blalock said. “It’s a great step, but we need to feel the water and see if it works.”

Hill also presented the board with a spreadsheet that showed the district would have issued $32,000 in supplements this year based on last school year’s test scores.

Hill said if the board eventually approves a performance-related pay scale, such as the one he presented, the amounts available would be contingent on the district’s budget.

“That’s something we would have to look at each year when we make our budget,” Hill said. “If we get to the point of the board approving this whole plan, I have to make that clear that we’re approving this with, the idea the money is available to do it.”

The board instructed Hill to show the proposed pay scale to teachers in the district, get feedback from them and bring their suggestions back to the board for further discussion.