National Board Certified Teachers could get bonuses

This is good news for the state’s National Board Certified teachers: Some key folks in the General Assembly want to restore their bonuses.

Some states are debating whether a salary boost for National Board Certified teachers is a good investment, suggesting that bonuses might better go to teachers with proven track records of raising student achievement rather than to teachers who earn the certification. Sometimes, they are one and the same. Sometimes, they are not.

Georgia has been a leader in urging teachers to seek certification ever since ex Gov. Roy Barnes became impressed with the program. (He continues to be a national champion of it.)

I have interviewed Georgia teachers who said the certification process was grueling and a few who said it was a cinch.  I have been impressed with the certified teachers I have met, although I can’t speak to their records of increasing student achievement.

According to the AJC story:

The session begins Jan. 11, about five months after educators who had earned certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards began seeing smaller paychecks because of state budget cuts.

The Professional Association of Georgia Educators, the state’s largest teachers group, sued the state over the reduction in pay supplements in October, arguing that lawmakers had no right to cut the 10 percent supplements that board-certified teachers had been promised.

House Rules Chairman Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) agrees, and he thinks the General Assembly will restore the supplements during the session.

“Legally, it is an obligation,” he said. “I think you’re going to see the House Appropriations Committee make the decision to put it [supplement money] back in. Everybody we obligated it to needs to be paid.”

Seeking reductions to balance the state budget last spring, lawmakers cut the supplements almost in half, costing many nationally certified teachers $3,000 to $4,000. For a lot of teachers, that was on top of furloughs and pay cuts local districts implemented.

Jolinda Collins, a nationally certified language arts teacher at Brookwood High School in Gwinnett County, said she understands the state’s fiscal situation.

Because of falling tax revenue during the recession, lawmakers have slashed the state budget about $3 billion in the past year or so. More will be cut during the upcoming session.

Still, Collins said, “To force teachers to take serious pay cuts in this way is disrespectful and unacceptable, especially when some state employees get a bonus.

“Suddenly losing 10 percent of my income that I have depended on for eight years has been difficult. Combined with three days of furlough that we’ve had so far, it’s devastating. My paychecks since August are $450 less than in July.

“I guess the governor and legislators don’t know what it’s like to earn so little money that a 10 percent loss creates a crisis in the household.”

Teachers who earn national board certification in Georgia have been getting salary supplements for more than a decade. They say they were promised a 10 percent pay supplement if they went through the arduous certification process, which can take more than a year and costs $2,500.

So let’s discuss: Is this a good incentive program or should bonuses go to teachers whose students show the greatest growth year to year?

62 comments Add your comment

vee

December 29th, 2009
11:21 am

I assume that the bonus was to encourage teachers to become better at teaching our students, thus, better scores for the state. I have worked with teachers who earned the certification, got the bonus, and went on to teach in a DIFFERENT subject than their fancier certification. How does this help our students? I’m sure most of the teachers involved are doing whats best for the students, but shouldn’t there be some sort of “proof” that this higher education is making a difference in the classroom before committing forever to a bonus?

Tony

December 29th, 2009
11:22 am

When the governor announced his intention to remove the supplements from the budget, he had the Office of Student Achievement (or someone) review the research about National Board Certification and its effect on student achievement. They reported that the certification research yielded evidence of “minimal” improvement. That statement was based mostly on one research report. What they did not report was that the very same research strongly supported the use of the certification as a valid means for incentive pay. Why? Because the teachers who signed up for National Board Certification already had, for the most part, an excellent track record of getting good results from students. So when the study compared before and after effects on student achievement, there was, of course, less gain because the teachers already caused students to earn high marks. In effect, the certification process brought some validity to the teachers success and gave strong evidence that incentive pay would be appropriate.

When the governor and legislature drastically reduced the supplements last year, they broke their own promises to the teachers who worked hard to earn the certification. The final insult was the statements by the governor’s office that the teachers were ineffective in producing gains in student achievement. This was just another example of political manipulation of research reports to justify one person’s (or party’s) stance on public education.

The story does not end there. You see, the public education system in the United States, Georgia included, is one of the best in the world. All the claims about being “dead last” are based upon distorted political interpretations of test results that are taken completely out of context. Once the evidence started mounting that achievement was rising, the target of complaint became graduation rate. Once graduation rate begins to rise, as it has already, another target will be chosen. For now, the tartget still surrounds graduation rate but the attacks are coming from research based on data that are five years old.

I guess we will have to wait and see how they respond. If our priority is to provide a quality education to every child in Georgia, it seems that priority will show up in funding for the schools – even in difficult times.

jamlock

December 29th, 2009
11:25 am

These teachers are no more deserving of this money than any other state employee who was “promised” money and didn’t receive it.

vee

December 29th, 2009
11:33 am

Tony- thanks for the info. I wasn’t aware of some of this.

Porter for Georgia Campaign

December 29th, 2009
11:43 am

The DuBose Porter campaign for Governor 2010 would like to include a link for your readers where DuBose Porter went to the well of the Georgia House during the 2009 session to defend the National Board Certification Program. DuBose Porter has been the strongest proponent for teachers’ professional development over his 28 years in the Georgia House. He has chaired the Education and Higher Education Committees in addition to chairing the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education. DuBose knows that a strong public education system is the key to Georgia’s future. To view DuBose defending the program, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXXrZ3L39Ng

The learn more about DuBose’s campaign for Governor 2010, visit http://www.porterforgeorgia.com.

Maureen Downey

December 29th, 2009
12:25 pm

Get Schooled readers, Let me know your views on political postings, such as the one on this blog from DuBose Porter. My instinct is to leave them up, as I think that elected officials ought to be free to join in the discussion, even those in the midst of campaigns.
In fact, I am about to ask all the gubernatorial campaigns to send me summaries of their education platforms to post here.
If you have strong feelings, let me know.
Otherwise, I am fine with political postings that relate to education, as this one does.
Maureen

jim d

December 29th, 2009
12:31 pm

Gee Tony,

perhaps if they just let students retake their tests like they allow teachers to retake certification tests then we could just allow students scores to determine who is highly qualified.

Whatta think? Teachers can retake twice only parts of the certification test that they screw up on—why not allow students the same opportunity??

jim d

December 29th, 2009
12:32 pm

twice in a 24 month period as I recall

jim d

December 29th, 2009
12:36 pm

Ms. Downey,

I highly suggest they be left unless they get over the top–disrupting the flow of the blogs

Gator

December 29th, 2009
12:47 pm

Enter your comments here

Edugator

December 29th, 2009
12:56 pm

National Board Certification, like many of the graduate degrees earned by teachers, exists primarily to allow teachers a way to make more money, since simply being an effective teacher isn’t sufficient. The state promised the funding and should deliver. However, when you get down to what matters in the classroom, graduate degrees and board certification aren’t much help and don’t merit the extra compensation. What deserves rewarding are the myriad hours spent by dedicated teachers coaching math teams, working with Science Olympiad, offering free tutoring in foreign languages, organizing spelling bees, and all of the many things good teachers do daily without compensation- while their peers are out gaining credentials that net them fiscal rewards but do little to improve student performance.

cricket

December 29th, 2009
1:17 pm

There are no National Board Certified teachers at my elementary school so I can’t speak to that specifically. The certification levels at my school are roughly 30% bachelor’s, 40% master’s, 20% specialist’s, and remaining 10% have an EdD. I am in the master’s catagory and I can tell you without hesitation that the the 3 or 4 teachers I would choose for my own child or recommend to someone else have T-4 certification. Only one of those teachers is even thinking about getting her masters.
I realize I only see a tiny piece of the big picture in my school but it makes me wonder how much, if any, difference these advanced degrees and super-certification actually make when it comes to quality instruction and student achievement.

jim d

December 29th, 2009
1:39 pm

Here’s a thought—lets use up the federal stimulus money by giving all teachers a raise.

then when it runs out in 2011-2012 we can let our next president and the states worry with the huge shotfalls at that time.

DeKalb Conservative

December 29th, 2009
1:59 pm

I think the political posters should also be left up. If someone on a campaign level wants to take the time to educate people on this blog of a position, regardless of which side (I like the idea of reaching out to the different campaigns so hopefully a few viewpoints can be seen), then I think that is a great idea, especially since schools center around such political races.

just browsing

December 29th, 2009
2:23 pm

I believe that when one makes an agreement they should honor it to the best of their ability. I was browsing the PSC website today and noticed the Distinguished Teacher Leader endorsement to begin 6/30/2010. Teachers would have to be a Master Teacher, have the Teacher Leader endorsement, and be recommended by their principal for a 15% increase in state salary. It looks like Georgia has its own model that it prefers to use to gauge teacher effectiveness. Master Teachers would receive an additional 10% in their pay. National Board Certification is apparently not good enough for Georgia anymore. I feel that much of this is a result of our being in compliance for Race to the Top Monies which I believe require that a pay for performance model be build in.

just browsing

December 29th, 2009
2:24 pm

built not build

just browsing

December 29th, 2009
2:27 pm

@ Tony- I know librarians who have National Board Certification. It is not based off of test scores always, and it cannot be or it would not recognize the efforts of some wonderful teachers that don’t teach core subjects.

jim d

December 29th, 2009
3:10 pm

JUST BROWSING,

That money runs out in 11-12—so how will higher salaries be supported then?? Juat sayin!

jim d

December 29th, 2009
3:11 pm

this thing is headed down a highway to hell

jim d

December 29th, 2009
3:19 pm

Education of the future.

Here’s what you can look forward to once china calls its loans.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091223/ap_on_bi_ge/us_chinacast_education_management_purchase

I’d place this one on the buy list.

Lee

December 29th, 2009
3:26 pm

NBC bonus’ were a bad idea to start with, just as paying PE teachers with Phd’s $90k per year is a bad idea.

Degrees, certifications, and yes, even experience do not necessarily equate to competence.

That said, the State of Georgia promised these teachers if they would go out and attain NBC status that they would be paid a bonus. The state should uphold that obligation.

Gwinnett Parent

December 29th, 2009
3:31 pm

Board certification does not create a better teacher or improve scores. We all know that there are several other forces dragging down schools and student performance. Some classrooms and students are hopeless regardless of how many degrees or certs. the teacher has on the wall.

However, if a teacher paid for classes out of his/her own pocket in anticipation of a promised pay raise then the extra compensation is deserved. Why don’t we just grandfather the teachers that are currently board certified as well as those that are already in the program?

jim d

December 29th, 2009
4:02 pm

Gwinnett Parent,

I agree in principle, I really do. I just don’t know where the money is going to come from to fund those pay increases. Have you got a funding plan?? I guess since the State and Fed. don’t really have a way of earning money to fund this that they will have to either print some up or steal it from us.

jim d

December 29th, 2009
4:03 pm

Mo,

Looks like another one may have been hung

Maureen Downey

December 29th, 2009
4:04 pm

Jim d, It’s out.

Tony

December 29th, 2009
4:06 pm

Gwinnett Parent – The grandfathering took place a few years ago when the legislature added limits to which NBC teachers would be eligible for extra pay. That is, they must work in a high needs school.

jim d – I am working with universities to raise the level of qualifications for teacher education programs. Personally, I don’t believe a potential teacher should have unlimited retakes on the teachers’ exams. I would prefer that we start on the other end of the program and recruit the most viable candidates for teacher education programs. This is one of the areas that other countries have us beat, hands down. Once we start doing that, teacher pay will have to increase dramatically for us to attract and retain the best candidates.

jim d

December 29th, 2009
4:11 pm

Tony,

Again I would respectfully ask if you have a funding plan?? Personally, I’m tapped out and can not afford anymore.

jim d

December 29th, 2009
4:20 pm

Tony,

might i suggest streamlining administrative costs?

Tony

December 29th, 2009
4:32 pm

jim d – If the taxpayers want world class education, then they will have to prioritize other wants. I agree there is only so much $$$ to go around. There are ways schools could use money more efficiently, but invariably there are requirements that are imposed by outside forces (feds and state rules). Perhaps, the state may have to sacrifice some of its transportation advisory commissions, boards, regional councils, etc. Maybe it’s time the state to reorganize all its departments and shed some baggage.

Within the education funding categories, one of the artificial limits imposed is class size restrictions. The numbers that are currently used for class size limits are very restrictive and don’t allow schools to use student grouping plans that go over those limits. The research is very clear that you don’t really make a difference in student achievement until you get class sizes under 15. It is also very clear that effective teachers can handle as many as 40 to 50 students according to the subject matter being taught.

Having greater flexibility with class size alone would free up millions of dollars in personnel costs, and it can be done without negatively impacting student achievement. There are other ways, but the naysayers will come out in droves if I enumerate too many possible reductions like athletics.

Tony

December 29th, 2009
4:39 pm

jim d – in our system administrative costs have been cut to bare bones.

just browsing

December 29th, 2009
4:43 pm

I cannot agree with you Tony about the retakes issue. I have known some outstanding teachers who required several tries before passing the PRAXIS exam, however, they were EXTREMELY effective in the classroom. The test only measures ones knowledge capacity and understanding of pedagogical practice, not their effective implementation. It all boils down to committed excellence in the classroom, not passing teacher certification tests on the first try. It all depends on the learning experience we want to provide our children. Test scores can be generated at the expense of creative practice and vice versa, I personally find Georgia’s teachers to be some of the most creative around.

jim d

December 29th, 2009
4:44 pm

you obviously are not in gwinnett

Ernest

December 29th, 2009
4:45 pm

Maureen, I agree with JimD regarding postings from politicians. I’d welcome their thoughts with respect to education issues, especially if it is pertinent to the topic at hand. This is another outlet for them to reach constituents. They key is if they stay on topic!

I also look forward to all candidates submitting the education positions to this blog for all to review and comment on also. This could also provide an opportunity to extend the reach of GetSchooled, if it is marketed accordingly.

jim d

December 29th, 2009
4:46 pm

Gwinnett’s fine new schools that dot the landscape have classrooms built to hold about 30 students with desks crammed together—increasing class sizes would require hundreds of millions to remodel.

jim d

December 29th, 2009
4:48 pm

all the retired–rehired as consultants and school improvement people with nice fat salaries

jim d

December 29th, 2009
4:48 pm

2 billion dollar a year budget

jim d

December 29th, 2009
4:51 pm

Gwinnett could easily cut enough to make the pay increases–but they won’t since it was promised by the stste—they’d rather see teachers pissed on than do what is right.

jim d

December 29th, 2009
4:53 pm

Sig-Heil Alvin

Ernest

December 29th, 2009
5:18 pm

JimD, you need to stop… :)

[...] this link: National Board Certified Teachers could get bonuses | Get Schooled Share and [...]

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Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

December 29th, 2009
8:54 pm

What jim d needs, is to get a job so he doesn’t have all day to be a pain in the posterior.

GA is a low-tax state, and has reaped the rewards: world-class high school football. Teacher’s certification is some kind of cruel joke, as knowledge of a particular course of study is not paramount. People that are passionate about a subject can- can- teach an interesting and rewarding subject. If the national program is geared to proficiency in a subject, I’d be all for it, cost be what it may.

equal treatment for all

December 29th, 2009
8:58 pm

all state employees (teachers/doctors/secretaries/janitors/etc should recieve the same number of furlough days and the same pay raises yearly—the georgia gain system was a joke–the same “pets” received the raises every year for doing projects their superiors received credit for–amazing? yet true—-the number of school administrators for each school system and their exhorbitant salaries needs to be closely examined and a greatly needed reduction of these costs made while a similar upgrade should be made for the classroom or “hands on” teacher. –if one state employee recieves a furlough day then every state employee should receive them—some employees are not receiving furlough days due to their perceived job importance but those same people can take all the annual and sick days they desire with no perceived loss of benefit so basically that theory is b.s.. Now who in their right minds would guarantee a bonus and a yearly increase in pay regardless of future budget problems or lack of perfomance? even professional athletes do not get such lifetime raises and bonuses. imagaine paying a quarterback 5 million per year to play linebacker for the life of his career–that’s the same as paying a bonus and a yearly increase to certified teachers not teaching in their certified fields. outrageous. education needs overhaul drastically (as evidenced by the salaries now paid to most of administration–particularly superintendants, principals, vice-principals) it’s time for the classroom teachers to reap some of the rewards and salaries and to limit administrative costs. first limit would be the number of administrators actually needed and second would be the exhorbitant salaries of these people. if you read the AJC you know what the school supt. in atlanta and in macon are paid–plus some have the perks of housing, etc thrown in. just some thoughts from a private business person. the state should be in the business of reasonable pay for work perfomed and equal benefits for all state employees.

ScienceTeacher671

December 29th, 2009
9:28 pm

I don’t mind the political advertisements, as long as it’s equal-opportunity.

40-50 students wouldn’t fit in my classroom. 30 barely fit. National recommendations are for no more than 24 students in a lab class, but Georgia allows more, and sometimes I have 30, which is too many. We manage, but really it’s too many.

Elizabeth

December 30th, 2009
8:43 am

Tony: “recruit the best canditates”? When I began teaching in 1970, teaching was one of few things a bright, educated woman could do. other opportunities not avaliable to me. If you want the best cadidates, then you are going to have to pay for them. My mother, who taught for over 40 years in Georgia schools, heard this argument again and again. “Get better qualified teachers?” she said ( in 1968) “they van’t pay for the quality they have now!”

Sadly , the quality has deconed. I worked with a gifyted teacher 4 years ago who shamelessly admitted that she had only read one or taught one ^th greade novel– ” the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” She then proceedcxed to read the entire book out loud to her gifted studetns, amny of whom were so frutrated by this that they begged to come to my class, where ALL of my studetns read the novel for themsleves (the lo readerswith some help from e). And this woman had a PHD. She knew less about language arts and grammar in her 50’s than I knew from my Language Arts teacher mother in 8th grade. If y9ou want bette quality, pay for it!

As for Ntional Board crtification pay promises, I signed a contract to work and get paid for 190 days. If I do anything to void that cpontract, I can be fired and/or have my certificate lifted. Yet the state has NO obligation, it seems, to honor the agreement they made with me. There should be a law suit about that. If I have to abide by the contract, so should they. Every furlough day costs me 394 dollars out of my paycheck That is weither my car payment or my groceries for the entire month.Please excuse the typos– my computer seems to be crashing– I can’t make corrections.

Uncle Commode

December 30th, 2009
9:56 am

Teachers should receive no bonus other than their summer vacation bonus. The incompetence level of these teachers should render most of them a pink slip and send them working for the TSA.

jim d

December 30th, 2009
10:24 am

Tony,

“recruit the best canditates”?

From this??

*In 18 U.S. states, not even one elementary math class is required for certification.

*Some teaching colleges allow admittance as long as students have math skills equal to their future students — that is, as long as they could pass a 5th grade math test.

*It’s possible in some states to pass the teacher certification exam (Praxis) without answering a single math question correctly.

*In Massachusetts, there’s a special program to reacquaint teachers with math. The man who runs the program says half of teachers can’t answer basic questions involving fractions and has concluded that many elementary teachers are “phobic” about math.

*Teachers seem to be math-averse from the start. College bound seniors headed for elementary education have math SAT scores significantly lower than the national average (483 vs. 515).

I find this outrageous.

Teach

December 30th, 2009
10:49 am

@ Uncle Commode …
“Teachers should receive no bonus other than their summer vacation bonus.”
The paychecks teachers receive in summer are not a bonus. Some still don’t understand the way teachers in Georgia are paid including unfortunately many teachers. Our salary is determined on a daily basis and prorated to a balanced monthly check over 12 months.

Why is this a bad thing for teachers? The money we earn from August to May is held back by the state. The state, not teachers, makes interest on it in June and July. Sweet deal for the state coffers. Same idea as mortgage escrows for taxes or gross over-withholding of taxes. We undisciplined adults can’t keep track of our own money so we let big brother, etc. keep our savings to protect us from running out. DUMB adults should be taught better.

MsCrabtree

December 30th, 2009
12:42 pm

For all those who feel National Board Certified teachers do not deserve their bonus, I invite you to go through the process, and THEN tell me what you think. It is most definitely not a program for slack offs who think it will be an easy way to earn more money. Perdue provided very shoddy “research” to back up his claim. Just wondering, if he was a “board certified” vet.

Uncle Commode

December 30th, 2009
1:16 pm

Im not going thru any process. Some of teachers do deserve a bonus and thats about 1% or less. The rest of ya are just a group of miserable freeloaders that should be fired.