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Bonuses to national board certified teachers hasn’t moved the best teachers to the worst schools

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on March 23, 2011 at 8:36 am |
March 23, 2011 9:33 am

That was the reason behind a second $5,000 bonus pushed by Gov. Chris Gregoire in 2007 – to use money to attract top teachers to struggling schools. It was on top of another $5,000 bonus to any Washington teacher who achieves the rigorous certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

But new research by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington Bothell indicates that few board certified teachers move to high-poverty schools. Less than 1 percent of teachers who gain national certification move.

“Not only has the $10,000 annual bonus failed to move effective teachers to high-poverty schools, it has also failed to make those teachers any more likely to stay in high-poverty schools than other teachers,” said Jim Simpkins who did the research.

The center’s announcement and a link to the report is here.

Some of the numbers show that the percentage of board certified teachers in high-poverty schools is increasing. But Simpkins found that is because they were already working in a struggling school when the achieved certification. Also, as the list of struggling schools grows, it captures teachers who were already working there.

The report will certainly be fodder in the debate over whether the bonuses are effective and affordable. Gregoire has already called for their elimination as part of her budget-balancing plan. That will save about $50 million a year.

In fact it is the success of the program that has made it more of a target for budget cutters. Since 2007, the number of teachers with board certification has tripled. But while it is unlikely the program will survive budget cuts, some teachers who won certification in response to the bonus plan feel the state would be backing out of a commitment.

The bonus plan is the only one in Washington that attempts to reward top teachers and the only financial incentive to attract good teachers to struggling schools.

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