District studies alternative compensation for teachers

The Ashland School District hopes to participate in a statewide study on teacher-pay reform as part of its own study on how to better reward good teachers and weed out ineffective ones.

"It would be nice to have some resources and also be connected to other school districts in Oregon who are working on this," Superintendent Juli Di Chiro told the School Board Monday. "I'm very encouraged by this opportunity."

A representative from the Chalkboard Project, a nonprofit focused on improving Oregon schools, will meet with the district's Alternative Compensation Committee in January to discuss the district's potential participation in the statewide study, she said.

The Chalkboard Project's Creative Leadership Achieves Student Success initiative received a $13.2 million federal grant in September for the study and implementation of teacher compensation reforms over the next five years.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden supported the Chalkboard Project's request for the Teacher Incentive Fund money.

"The Chalkboard Projects' CLASS program is one of the most innovative education initiatives in Oregon and a model that the entire nation can benefit from," he said in a release.

Seven school districts are participating in the study so far: Albany, Bend-La Pine, Redmond, Crook County, Lebanon, Oregon City and Salem-Keizer.

Researchers are looking for three more school districts to participate and have expressed interest in working with a district in Southern Oregon, Di Chiro said.

"They contacted us and expressed interest," she said. "It is exciting news for us, and we certainly hope that that comes to fruition for us."

It's unclear how much funding the district could receive to help complete the study, she said.

The district's Alternative Compensation Committee hasn't released any findings yet. It is evaluating teacher hiring practices, professional development standards and student test scores to try to determine how to improve teaching quality, Di Chiro said.

"As we dig into this, we realize how complex it is," she said. "We're looking at everything from, 'How do we hire and support new teachers?' to evaluations and professional development."

Each of the districts involved in the study will spend a year planning before implementing changes, which likely will include new compensation models and more effective performance evaluations for teachers.

Researchers still are determining what the new pay scales will look like and how teachers' effectiveness will be measured and monitored.

Teacher-pay reform studies are being conducted across the nation this year, Di Chiro said.

"It's a complex subject but there's lots of work being done in the country right now on this, so I think it's a good time for us to be conducting this study," she said.

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-708-1158 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.

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