Va. school board approves merit-pay plan

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Capital Land,Lisa Gartner

The Virginia school board on Thursday approved the governor's teacher merit-pay plan — even though local districts failed to do the same.

Called "Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria for Teachers," the $3 million plan calls for districts to base 40 percent of teacher evaluations on their students' test score gains.

“This model recognizes that to be meaningful, teacher evaluations must include objective measures of student academic progress,” state school board President Eleanor Saslaw said. “It is designed to give school divisions a means of evaluating teachers fairly while identifying the supports and professional development needed to improve quality and effectiveness.”

When the governor first rolled out the model — which would allow for bonuses up to $5,000 at schools identified by the state as "hard-to-staff" — many Northern Virginia districts said thanks, but no thanks.

Fairfax, Arlington and Loudoun counties didn't see how their schools were hard-to-staff. A Fairfax spokesman said flatly that the program "is not something we feel would be helpful to staff those schools." Similarly, Loudoun said the plan "is really not applicable to us." Arlington said the same, but that the district would review the proposal.

Prince William currently has a pay-for-performance program, but a spokesman said it could possibly be used in conjunction with the governor's plan.

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