I am writing in response to Steve Shurick’s Viewpoint titled, “Teachers now a scapegoat” (Feb. 9). While I am part of the majority of teachers who voted in favor of allowing individual schools to vote on the Lucia Mar teacher evaluation program (TAP), I do agree with some of Shurick’s points.
I agree that merit pay is counterproductive. I agree that nothing but multiple choice testing is not a good solution to our kids’ needs. But in my experience with researching TAP and visiting TAP schools in Arizona, TAP is not about either of those things.
To clarify, TAP does not have a “merit pay” component (meaning teachers’ salaries could go up or down based on performance). In order to accept the grant of nearly $7.2 million, Lucia Mar had to accept the component of “bonus pay.” Bonus pay does not affect Lucia Mar’s salary schedule, but allocates $3,000 per teacher for yearly bonuses based on their students’ academic growth and evaluations using a highly effective teaching rubric.
TAP is a nonprofit organization based on solid research that is focused on helping students and schools. The prospect of a structured program that encourages teacher accountability, peer coaching and collaboration, along with the possibility for good teachers to follow a career path in which they could influence other teachers is exciting!
The thing that excites me the most about possibly becoming a TAP school is the benefit it will bring to all students at our site. This program doesn’t just benefit one subgroup of students, it benefits all students by providing their teacher with the direction and support needed to use the most successful strategies that reach all learners.
I also look forward to my school site having a master teacher fully released from the classroom to help me set teaching goals, research the most effective strategies and support me in a structured and practical way as I strive to improve as a teacher. This amount of coaching is something we have never had in the Lucia Mar school district.
I am looking forward to the positive benefits of TAP for all of us, including some well deserved extra pay. TAP gives teachers the opportunity to reach beyond their four walls and truly be partners in education, striving to do what is best for our students.
Jeannie Cross is an intervention teacher at Fairgrove Elementary School and has been a member of the Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association for 11 years.