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Utah's education community is on the cusp of an intriguing experiment that could significantly alter the way teachers are compensated. It will be fascinating to see how it plays out.
School districts throughout the state have until July 1 to submit proposals for how to distribute $20 million in one-time money to teachers who excel at what they do. The legislature's intent with the appropriation was to unleash the creative juices of educators - for each district to devise a plan for moving toward performance-based pay packages for teachers.
Obviously, controversy surrounds the effort. Paying teachers based on performance rather than primarily on their academic credentials and longevity in the classroom is a sure way to ruffle sensitive professional feathers. Yet, if it can benefit the state's children by improving the quality of their education, it ought to be vigorously pursued.
Huge questions, though, loom. What factors should determine a teacher's effectiveness: student test scores and attendance; goal setting, personal development and evaluation; teaching style? Furthermore, how can performance-based pay be implemented without becoming divisive and destroying morale among faculty? And foremost, does it ultimately benefit the children?