March 24, 2011
Public forum held on strategic compensation in Knox County Schools

Knox County School superintendent Jim McIntyre speaks at a public forum on strategic compensation at Fulton High School Mar. 23. (Photo by J.J. Kindred) 

By J.J. KINDRED

J.Kindred@theknoxvillejournal.com

Amy Logan, a music and special areas teacher at Farragut Intermediate School,  said using only value-added data, which is information that shows how much a student has learned from one year to the next, to determine who should get extra compensation pay would be unfair, and most teachers would be excluded. 

Logan was one of several people who attended the first of two public forums on strategic compensation, held at Fulton High School Mar. 23.

Knox County Schools superintendent Jim McIntyre and Nakia Towns, director of human capital strategy for the school system, led the forum. 

The school system has received approximately $10.7 million in federal and state money to create a performance-pay plan, through federal funding that includes Race to the Top, the Innovation Acceleration Fund (IAF), the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) and the Great Schools Partnership. 

McIntyre explained that strategic compensation would include more pay for teachers and others, alleging resources with instructional goals and incenting for inputs and outcomes that support student learning and academic growth. 

"I go to a lot of schools and most of them have great instruction," McIntyre said. "The state of Tennessee has moved to a different model in terms of academic standards."

McIntyre hopes to have a proposal to the Knox County school board this summer, and implement the plan at the start of the 2011-2012 school year. He has requested feedback from the school system and the community on what the plan should look like.

Value-added data is taken from the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) exams given in grades three through eight. Those who teach kindergarten through second grade, high school or related arts, would not have access. 

McIntyre noted that other teachers have brought up the idea of looking at school-wide academic performance as a basis for strategic compensation.

He has held 16 teacher meetings on the pay structure since Mar. 7. They have also conducted teacher surveys that were distributed in faculty meetings and teacher focus groups are being planned next month. 

McIntyre said the key to the compensation plan will be developing methods to sustain it. However, Logan wasn’t convinced. 

"What happens when the money runs out?" Logan said. "There are no value added scores, and we’re not eligible for bonuses. More than half the teachers have no value-added scores available."

"Would I be eligible for a bonus based on the fact that I don’t have value added scores? My kids don’t take a test based on my subject area," Logan added after the forum. "I have no scores to show that children have gained growth from one year to the next in a concept area. So how would this compensation plan work for teachers that don’t have value-added scores?"

The next public forum is scheduled for Apr. 12 at Karns High School. Beforehand, a public forum on the school budget will be held Mar. 31 at West High School. The public can use Twitter to send questions to McIntyre by using the @knoxschools Twitter address. For more information, go to www.knoxschools.org