Taking action to enhance Minnesota's reputation as the nation's leader in education innovation, Governor Tim Pawlenty today announced a sweeping package of education reforms including extra funding for schools that pay teachers for performance and not just seniority. The plan also responds to the general need for additional K-12 funding by allowing an average increase of 5.4 percent over the next two years. Schools who embrace performance pay for teachers would be eligible for up to an 8 percent increase.
"Our Minnesota school system has served us well, but it is outdated in several key respects," said Governor Pawlenty. "The core mission for schools is to improve student learning. We need to improve accountability for results with the best interests of our customers, students and their parents, in mind."
There are three major components to the Governor's proposal announced today:
ยท QComp - Performance Pay for Quality Teaching
ยท More Funding for Schools
ยท Get Ready, Get Credit - college credits while in 12th grade
QComp - Performance Pay for Quality Teaching
The centerpiece of Governor Pawlenty's reforms is a performance pay proposal that makes districts eligible for extra funding if they pay teachers for performance rather than just seniority.
The total cost of the proposal is $60 million in the upcoming budget cycle and would cover 50 percent of Minnesota students. Districts would eligible for the extra money on a first come, first served basis.
"After parents, teachers are the biggest influence in the educational success of a child," said Governor Pawlenty. "Our current teacher pay system is outdated and it is not geared towards accountability for results. We need to treat teachers as professionals, not part of an assembly line from the 1940s."
Pawlenty's teacher pay plan, QComp, contains the following elements:
Multiple Career Paths - Recognize teacher excellence by creating master and mentor teaching positions to encourage gifted teachers to remain in the classroom and share their skills with others.
Rigorous Evaluation and Review System - Specific performance and accountability goals will be set for every teacher. A review team consisting of the principal and peers will evaluate performance based upon achievement of the goals, including improvement of student learning. "Current evaluations for non-probationary teachers are often weak," said Governor Pawlenty.
Performance Pay - Enhanced compensation will be tied to growth in student achievement, rather than seniority. The plan requires participating districts to abolish outdated, lockstep "steps and lanes" compensation systems. Districts will also be able to pay more to teachers in high-need schools and hard to staff subject areas.
Professional Development Aligned to Actual School and Student Needs - Currently, staff development is not often correlated with the specific needs of students or the school being served. Pawlenty's plan will require staff development to be customized and focused on identified needs of students such as skill development in reading strategies, fine-tuning methods to better align curriculum with learning standards, intervention with struggling children and use of state and local assessment data.
More Funding for Schools
Governor Pawlenty proposed to allow average general fund revenue per student to increase by 5.4 percent over the next two years. This increase not only covers inflation, but also provides additional money local districts can use to lower class sizes and improve their current programs.
Average statewide general fund revenue per student will go from the scheduled $8361 to $8520 for FY 2006 and from the scheduled $8500 to $9063 for FY 2007.
Districts that also take advantage of the QComp plan could experience increases of up to 8 percent over the last biennium.
"Even with our budget challenges, we need to provide more funding for our schools," added Governor Pawlenty. "These increases will more than cover inflation and allow schools to move forward with change and reform."
Pawlenty is proposing a 2 percent increase on the general education formula in each of the next two years. That increase amounts to $122 per student in FY 2006 and $248 per student in FY 2007. In addition to the general education funding increases, Pawlenty is proposing to allow local school boards to increase local option levies for the local portion of teacher performance pay, special education, deferred maintenance and a discretionary levy which replaces several existing local option levies and provides additional flexibility. These levies are partially equalized, capped and subject to a new reverse referendum process that Governor Pawlenty described as "turbocharged." Additionally, Pawlenty is proposing to increase the current cap on voter-approved local levies from 18 percent of the general education formula amount to 28 percent.
Get Ready, Get Credit
It is becoming increasingly clear that too many 11th and 12th graders are academically "checked out" and that their later high school experience is not as productive as it should be. We know that other students are not properly prepared for college at a time when higher education is more essential than ever. More students are also taking remedial classes once in college and are taking longer to graduate from colleges that are becoming more expensive.
Students who complete a college level course in high school will also be encouraged to take a College Level Examination Program (CLEP) test to receive immediate credit in the state higher education system. This plan will add more value to 11th and 12th grade by providing opportunities for students to get a head start on their college careers without having to leave high school.
Pawlenty's proposal encourages high school students to get a head start on college. The Get Ready, Get Credit proposal would assess college preparedness earlier and better by providing funding so that students in grades 8 and 10 can take the ACT "EPAS" assessment at no charge. EPAS determines preparedness for college and areas in which students need to devote further study and effort.
The Governor also recommends reinstating the stipend to teachers of Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate programs based on numbers of students passing AP/IB examinations, and making changes in program administration.