With more teachers anticipated to receive as much as $3,000 in performance pay this summer and upcoming school year, a new state law seeks to make sure they’ve all earned it.
Every school district — and in some cases every individual school — uses its own system to determine if teachers qualify for the bonus, which voters approved in 2000 as part of the Proposition 301 sales tax increase.
The new law effective in August will establish a 12-member Arizona Performance Based Pay Task Force to evaluate what teachers must do to earn that pay increase.
John Wright, president of the Arizona Education Association and a prime lobbyist for the law, said it will ensure not only that every teacher has earned the pay by improving education, but it will also make earning the bonus pay more fair.
"We’re focused on real student progress," Wright said. "Not just test scores."
Schools and districts now can choose any system to qualify teachers for the bonus, and even change it during the middle of a school year, Wright said. That means while some teachers must improve AIMS test scores, others simply must take a class to earn their bonus.
Beginning in February, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne will have to forward all performance pay plans to the task force, which will provide districts a report evaluating whether their plans truly improve education and are fair to teachers.
Meanwhile, an extra $82.5 million surplus in the performance pay money means teachers will get $500 to $700 extra when their bonuses are disbursed. Regular bonuses are expected to range from $1,600 to $2,200, depending on how many teachers in a district qualified.