Merit Pay for Longhorns

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The Lone Star State may be dipping its toes into merit pay waters if its Senate passes a bill recently passed by House legislators. HB2 would require districts to either devote nearly half of a proposed 5 percent increase in state funding to raising teacher pay or to increase teacher pay by an average of $3,000 per teacher, whichever turns out to cost less. The key is that districts do not have to dole out the money uniformly among all teachers without regard to their merit, but instead can elect to use the money to create incentives for teachers to boost student achievement. The hitch is that no one has quite figured out how to fund the new spending, since Texas is simultaneously trying to wean itself off of property taxes.

In addition to this new state contribution to the cause, HB2 also requires that districts spend a not insignificant amount of their own funding (at least one percent) on "incentive pay," to be based primarily on objective measures of student achievement.