Is Cleveland's unique teacher pay plan living up to promises? Not yet
Cleveland school district CEO Eric Gordon, left, and teachers union head David Quolke, right, spent months in 2012 reaching agreement on the Cleveland Plan, an improvement plan for the district. But work since then has dragged on a teacher pay system called for in the plan, drawing sharp criticism from Quolke. (Plain Dealer file)
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Four years after the "Cleveland Plan" was supposed to bring a groundbreaking new way of paying teachers to Ohio, the Cleveland school district still hasn't moved beyond using a strict "merit pay" system that would have been a lightning rod in 2012.
As part of the plan to improve the Cleveland school district, the state legislature called for a teacher pay plan "based on performance," instead of the traditional teacher salary schedule other districts use. That made Cleveland the only district in Ohio that no longer gives raises for years of experience and degrees that teachers earn.
But Cleveland's new compensation plan is still far from being a model for teacher pay that many hoped for.
It hasn't even been fully put together yet.
Despite hours of meetings over the last four years, the district and Cleveland Teachers Union can't agree on how to define and reward "performance" and the two have been unable to build out the full plan.
The district, at least for now, is only increasing salaries when teachers earn strong ratings on their annual evaluations. Those ratings combine classroom observations by principals or other evaluators with measures designed to show how much students learned under each teacher over a school year.
More than half of teachers in the district earned increases in the first two years of the new system. But the ratings-only raises are similar to the merit pay system that 2011's Senate Bill 5 attempted to impose across Ohio.
That bill drew union backlash over merit pay and other union restrictions. Voters agreed with the unions and repealed the law later that year.
Cleveland Teachers Union President David Quolke said teachers and other unions would not have agreed to the Cleveland Plan in 2012 without assurances that other factors, not just ratings, would be part of the new compensation system.
But the union and district have not reached agreement on several other ways to Is Cleveland's unique teacher pay plan living up to promises? Not yet | cleveland.com: