Higher teacher pay for student performance proposed in SC House

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - There's a new plan to pay teachers based on how well his or her students perform on standardized tests.

If House bill 4419 is passed, it would affect more than 45,000 teachers statewide.

3rd grade teacher Patrick Hayes says the system is unfair and nearly impossible to measure.

"Student performance is mostly out of the hands of teachers," said Hayes.

Hayes is also director of Ed First SC, a group that advocates for education issues to lawmakers.

He's outraged that half of his yearly evaluation to get a raise could be based on how well his students do on standardized tests.

"We have kids who fall asleep on the desk every day; we can't do a lot about that. We have kids during the test who just suddenly decide they're going to draw Mickey Mouse on the bubble sheet, we can't do a lot about that," said Hayes.

Supporters of the bill say it will be good for students and teachers.

"It elevates the profession. It recognizes the good teachers," said Representative Samuel Rivers, Jr.

Rivers says it rewards teachers for hard work and results.

"Incentives like bonuses," said Rivers.

Rivers does admit that the performance of students shouldn't make up half of a teacher's evaluation for a raise.

"That will be amended in the subcommittee level, so teachers don't need to really be all that concerned about 50%."

Under the bill, if students don't improve, teachers would go through training and if they don't produce better results, they could be demoted or even worse.

"They'll give them a pick slip," said Rivers.

In other words, a teacher can be fired.

Hayes said, "And who's going to feel that pressure, the teacher's going to feel it right away and where's it going to go next, it's going to go right onto the kids."

One lawmaker says the bill shouldn't be state law.

Senator Larry Grooms said, "We have 84 different school districts, 84 different types of administrators and teachers. What works in Charleston County might not work in Allendale, might not work in Greenville."

Representative Andy Patrick of Beaufort County is the sponsor of this bill. He says there's a provision in the bill for school districts to opt out, but only if they have a similar teacher evaluation system of their own.

Patrick is also the chair of the K-12 subcommittee, where the bill is right now.

Patrick says it may be considered again in April.

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