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Dallas ISD Teacher Evaluation Plan Could End Pay Hikes Based On Seniority

Bill Zeeble
Dallas Superintendent Mike Miles, addressing a crowded Chamber of Commerce in his State of the District presentation. Over the next several months, he'll roll out more details about his proposed teacher evaluation re-do.

Dallas Superintendent Mike Miles wants to end a long tradition of granting pay hikes based on seniority. Instead, he wants to base them on performance evaluations. This is just one proposed change in teacher evaluations creating ripples in the schools.

Miles says proposed changes in Dallas teacher evaluations will help ensure better instructors.

The biggest change may involve salaries. Now, teachers are broadly paid based on years they’ve been teaching and their level of education. Under the evaluation re-do, there will be at least seven different pay levels based on a teacher’s performance, student test scores, and other measures.  

“Teachers should be paid more, but paid more if they’re effective, getting the job done," Miles says. "Most people in society believe they should be paid more, but it’s the effective teacher that should be compensated well. And we have an opportunity to do that here in Dallas and really compensate people the way they should be.”  

Miles says under this proposal, teachers could earn more money, with more chances to move up the pay ladder. David Lee, with Dallas’ largest teacher  group, The Alliance AFT, isn’t sold on the proposed changes.

“While the current system isn’t perfect, employees should be recognized for their longevity, particularly in a challenging district like Dallas," says Lee. "I can tell you the step system was never perfect. When I started I was shown a 10-step salary schedule and was assured that in ten short years I would be at the top of the schedule. And I never made it more than about halfway.”

Miles also wants students to evaluate teachers. He says research funded by Bill and Melinda Gates shows it’s effective.

“It’s certainly not a popularity contest.," says Miles. "When you look at the questions, it asks questions about being engaged, being challenged.  You know sometimes people mix up popularity with challenge. But I think students are able to make that distinction.” 

Dave Lee questions the findings of the Gates foundation and has mixed feelings about student surveys. He wants more information about them, and about everything.

“ So much of the plan right now is still a draft," says Lee, "that there’s not enough information to really make a clear evaluation. But there are a lot of concerns about it. There are a lot of concerns among employees.”

Parents get a chance to question Dallas school leaders about this proposal November 12th.  And there will be a lot more discussion about this teacher evaluation plan before the board votes on it. That’s not scheduled until May.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.