Merit pay for teachers runs out
DONNA, TX (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — Funding cuts at the state level have killed off a grant rewarding teachers for high test scores. But the teachers getting the bonus checks, they're not terribly sad it's gone.
"It was really demoralizing for the teachers that didn't get it because their kids didn't score a certain percentage," said Linda Estrada, regional president for the Texas State Teachers Association. "It really pitted teachers against each other."
The TSTA is a group representing educators in the state. It's never been for the grant program known as District Awards for Teacher Excellence.
In the eyes of the TSTA, every teacher works hard and every class has a mix of students. So it's unfair to base a paycheck on standardized tests.
"The DATE grant, I would approach it a little bit different, but I think it was very beneficial," Weslaco ISD Superintendent Ruben Alejandro said.
Alejandro said the district got more than $2 million during the previous two years of the DATE grant program. Weslaco ISD chose to spread it out evenly among teachers.
"So every single employee got something from this grant because every single employee at some point or another had some type of involvement," Alejandro explained.
According to a report, about 180,000 teachers saw some kind of bonus under the DATE grant.
A new program will replace it; at about one-tenth the cost. For teachers, it's bittersweet to see even more cuts to education. Even for a program they never wanted.
"I see how they're spending money on other things that could easily be used on the students," Estrada said. "It's kind of hard when you're purchasing things and you're like, okay, what's more important, this or this."