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.