BY T. KEUNG HUI
UPDATED FEBRUARY 01, 2023 11:37 AM
North Carolina leaders who want to change how teachers are paid released a new report Monday showing that teacher experience appears to have less influence on student learning than educator effectiveness. Student performance dropped across all groups in the 2020-21 school year, but the state Department of Public Instruction’s report said there was less negative impact for students linked to teachers who were identified as effective prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report from DPI’s Office of Learning Recovery and Acceleration (OLR) found that, compared to effectiveness, teacher longevity “played a negligible role in mitigating the negative impacts of the pandemic.”
“We know from our lost instructional time reporting that years of experience are meaningful, but knowing if teachers are effective — measured by results with their students — is more meaningful” State Superintendent Catherine Truitt said in a news release Monday. “The findings from this report are important, as it gives us data that will be used to guide our work and guide decision-making as it impacts student success.” Truitt and the State Board of Education are promoting a new model, under development, to replace the state’s pay for experience model.
The new model would base pay and licenses on whether teachers are demonstrating their effectiveness. How effectiveness would be measured is being developed, but measures could include student test scores and principal, teacher and student evaluations. A state commission will recommend what changes are needed in state laws, policies and rules to pilot the new teacher pay model. Truitt and the state board hope to win legislative approval to begin piloting the new program in some districts during the 2023-24 school year. The North Carolina Association of Educators is opposed to the overhaul, calling it a merit pay plan. NCAE says the state should instead raise salaries under the current experience-based model.
EFFECTIVENESS OVER EXPERIENCE
Truitt and the state board have repeatedly argued that teachers should be paid based on how effective they are at educating their students. Truitt said Monday that the new report underscores the value of measuring teacher effectiveness and its impact on student achievement. The report defines effectiveness by the ratings that some teachers received based on student growth on state exams under the SAS EVAAS (Education Value-Added Assessment System) formula. Many teachers don’t teach in classes with state exams so EVAAS couldn’t be used in the new system for those educators. Findings in the report include:
- During the 2020-21 school year, on average, there was less negative impact observed among students linked to teachers who were identified as effective prior to the pandemic.
- Results show negative impacts were mitigated for students whose teachers were identified as meeting or exceeding expected growth across all tested subjects and especially for reading in grade 4, math in grades 5 and 6, Math 3 in high school and science grade 5.
- Teachers and principals who had been at their school for more than three years moderately mitigated the negative effects of the pandemic on students’ performance.
- Overall, very little difference was observed in student performance during the pandemic when comparing their teachers’ longevity at their school for teachers serving 4-7 years or 8 or more years. “District and school leaders should consider placing their best, not necessarily most experienced, teachers where they can have the most impact, including early grades reading and middle grades math and science,” according to the report.