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North Carolina education leaders consider switch to merit-based pay for teachers

The Tar Heel state would be the first in the country to make such a move as educators weigh the pros and cons of the change.

NORTH CAROLINA, USA — Leaders in North Carolina education are looking for ways to successfully recruit teachers and keep them around for the long haul. One suggestion is a switch to merit-based pay.

If North Carolina makes the move it will be the first state in the country to do so. Other states and select school districts have tried similar ideas before as merit bonuses or pilot programs, but nothing permanent, statewide and solely merit-based.

“Teachers would be based on their effectiveness as a teacher, and that sounds like a great idea, the problem is how do you measure a teacher’s effectiveness?" 7th grade English teacher Justin Parmenter said.

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This merit-based pay proposal was presented to the State Board of Education by the Professional Educator Preparations and Standards Commission in April. As part of the proposal, factors like standardized tests, peer and principal evaluation, as well as student surveys, would all be used to measure a teacher's effectiveness. 

But some worry that judgment may be too subjective.

“It bases their compensation on a whole bunch of things they don’t have control over that could end up being unfair measures of who they are as a teacher," Parmenter said.

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The new system also puts less emphasis on the veteran teachers' experience which in some ways is invaluable.

“They mentor younger teachers, they have long-standing relationships with community members that make them a valuable resource for partnerships or advocating for the schools' needs," Parmenter said.

Education sub-committees will continue to meet for the next three months. The goal is to have the State Board of Education have the final look before presenting the plan to the General Assembly likely by early 2023.

Contact Briana Harper at bharper@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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