Iowa Ed Reform Plan Plows Familiar Ground

Monday, August 27, 2012

If many of the education reform ideas like teacher career paths, mentoring and performance reviews that are being discussed by state officials and task forces have a familiar ring to them, they should.

They’re already in the Iowa Code and have been for 11 years.

In May 2001, then-Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack signed legislation –— hailed as landmark at the time — that enacted the first statewide compensation system geared toward rewarding teachers based on student performance rather than seniority. The $40 million measure was to mark the first installment in what was expected to be a $250 million investment over a four-year transition to a performance-based pay system designed to make Iowa salaries more competitive and keep student achievement scores among the nation’s best.

The plan called for establishing a new structure that included higher pay and mentoring for beginning teachers, skill-building and career paths with higher pay steps for experienced teachers, team-based variable pay incentives tied to student performance, meaningful career development, and regular performance evaluations. It also put in place new Iowa teaching standards that began to define good teaching for purposes of evaluation and professional development. All districts were required to participate no later than July 1, 2003.

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