Local Teachers' Merit Pay Hinges on How Well They Engage with Parents

Education Reform
2011-10-24T02:00:00Z 2011-10-24T06:41:29Z Local Teachers' Merit Pay Hinges on How Well They Engage with ParentsBy Julie Wootton - jwootton@magicvalley.com Twin Falls Times-News

TWIN FALLS • It’s fall parent-teacher conference time and for some Magic Valley schools, there’s an added incentive to get parents involved.

At Wendell High School, teachers will receive merit bonuses based on the percentage of parents who show up for the conferences.

Under a package of education reform bills passed earlier this year by the Legislature, school districts were required to develop their own pay-for-performance plans.

Teacher bonuses, which will be distributed for the first time in 2012, can be based on a variety of factors, such as test scores and average daily attendance rates. Both district and state goals must be met.

Wendell Superintendent Greg Lowe said his district decided to base teacher bonuses on parent participation in high school conferences because it’s been a problem in the past.

“They have really struggled to get parent involvement at parent-teacher conferences,” he said.

To prepare for the conferences earlier this month, an automated phone message went out to remind parents.

Up to 70 percent of the possible bonus school employees can receive is based on how many parents show up for conferences throughout the year.

In order to earn the maximum bonus, 40 percent of parents must attend. Lowe said the percentage of parents who attended the first conference of the year was “way above that.”

Wendell Middle School’s plan has a similar focus, but the responsibility lies with students, not parents.

Half of the school’s pay-for-performance plan is based on the percentage of students who complete their portfolios for student-led conferences. In order for teachers to earn the largest reward, 90 percent of portfolios must be completed.

“If students have their portfolio ready, their parents will be there,” Lowe said.

Jerome Middle School also uses parent participation in its pay-for-performance plan.

Superintendent Dale Layne said conferences were held earlier this month and there was a jump in parent attendance rates. About 77 percent of parents showed up — more than the 59 percent rate last year.

Bonuses for teachers vary based on parent attendance rates, which range from 45 to 85 percent.

The Gooding School District’s plan for seventh through 12th grades is similar. One-fourth of the potential bonus for teachers is based on parent attendance at three conferences over the course of the year.

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(2) Comments

  1. Voice4Reason
    Report Abuse
    Voice4Reason - October 30, 2011 2:49 pm
    Really? Basing someone's wages on someone else's attendance is crazy. Should the teacher go to the home and bring them at gunpoint, should s/he serve gourmet snacks at conferences. Let's face it some parents don't care and some others will lose one of their several jobs if they show up.

    For many years children have come from all kinds of backgrounds and yet... they are able to learn if they are fed and safe from harm. I was a volunteer who listened to children read in school because they couldn't take books home because: 1. their parents had refused to pay for lost books or 2. their progress showed that parents were not helping them to read every night. We raised those children 3 grade levels in one semester of reading one-on-one for just 15 minutes per day with a caring person. In these days of overworked parents and understaffed schools it takes a village of interested and caring people to help our children.

    It's not fair to ignorantly judge the reasons parents don't jump through the schools hoops. When I had a problem child, his therapist told me his education was between him and his teacher, I had enough to do the help him learn and develop at home. Education is the school's job, not training parents. With school budgets cut we should all help in whatever way we can. Seniors working though Senior Corps and Foster Grandparents in Schools programs have done wonders. If you have time apply at CSI Office on Aging for the best job in the world, helping children.
  2. Rob Bligh
    Report Abuse
    Rob Bligh - October 25, 2011 12:55 pm
    The “parental involvement” theory is nonsense. While it is generally true that children whose parents are not “involved” strongly tend to perform worse in school than children whose parents are involved. However, lack of parental involvement is not a cause of poor student performance. Lack of parental involvement is merely a diagnostic symptom of inadequate parents. Wasting school resources in trying to induce uninvolved parents to act as if they are involved will not
    magically convert them either immediately or eventually into adequate parents. Neither will it magically increase the academic achievement levels of children who live (I cannot say "are being raised") in households operated by inadequate parents. Schools and teachers simply cannot fix the non-school problems that every other American social institution has failed to fix.

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