Teacher merit-pay plan launched

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Governor Bob McDonnell rolled out a teacher merit-pay plan Tuesday morning. He's invited dozens of so called, ''hard-to-staff" schools, to take part in the performance pay program. Teachers could get up to $5,000 if they are deemed "exemplary."

In a few years Carol Thomas' grandson will start school in Richmond. For Thomas a good education is paramount.

"I feel that all children should have the same chance and the same opportunities to learn and grow into what they could possibly be," said Thomas.

That's part of the reason why Governor McDonnell wants schools that have a hard time attracting, retaining and rewarding experienced -- fully licensed teachers -- to participate in his performance pay incentive initiative.

He's identified 169 schools statewide that qualify for the program -- including several schools in Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Petersburg and Hopewell.

"These are schools where there are needs in terms of instruction," said Charles Pyle, Spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Education.

If a school district decides to take part it must implement a teacher evaluation system approved by the state board of education.

"The division's administrators would receive training from the department to ensure the evaluations are conducted fairly," said Pyle.

At the end of the next school year those teachers recognized as exemplary, which is the highest rating on the evaluation, would receive as much as $5,000.

"This is an opportunity to reward teachers in the short term who make an impact on student growth in these schools, and in the long term will learn more about the potential of performance pay plans for increasing teacher quality and raising student achievement," said Pyle.

Thomas applauds the program -- she wishes it was open to all teachers.

"I think it's a nice thing to have an incentive to work hard and better but I think it should be equal," said Thomas.

A total of three million dollars in state funding will go toward the program. School districts  invited to take part have until June 15th to decide if they'll participate.

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