The legislative strategy for House Republicans in the new legislative session makes a priority a bill addressing teacher compensation and performance, calling it the “Missouri Teacher Quality Act.” That has now been introduced by Elementary and Secondary Education Committee Chairman Scott Dieckhaus (R-Washington).
The legislation, House Bill 1526, has four components. Dieckhaus says the foremost of these addresses teacher tenure, replacing permanent contracts with contracts ranging from one to four years based on a teacher’s evaluation and performance.
It also changes how a teacher’s performance is evaluated. Dieckhaus says it will “include a student growth measure so we can see what each teacher is doing with each of our students and how much progress students are making under individual teachers.”
Another piece removes the statutory prohibition on performance-based pay, leaving it up to school districts how to set pay policy. “If a school district wants to use the pay scale that we have now, they can do that, but I’m hoping we incentivize some school districts to pay teachers based upon performance and not necessarily measures that, statistically speaking, really don’t matter much.”
Another piece removes the last-in, first-out policy that sees the most recently hired teachers targeted first when a district trims staff. “Instead we’re looking now at performance measures and trying to keep the best teachers and letting those go that maybe aren’t performing as well as their colleagues.
Finally, the bill proposes giving more administrators a say in who will work in their buildings. “We’ve got a mutual consent placement piece in the bill that would allow principals to decide whether or not they want certain teachers in their building. Right now we have a system in place that kind of requires administrators to take certain teachers that achieved tenure status.”
Dieckhaus says the bill changes the education profession in a way that makes decision based on data, performance and output and he says that makes sense.
He adds, he would not be surprised to see other issues attached to it this session, such as a foundation formula bill or a Turner fix. He says he has concerns about attaching other issues to his bill and making something so large it becomes difficult to pass. “I think we have to be really careful this session to not put too many things into a bill. However, in the State of Missouri we are so far behind in transforming our education system to a point that we can be successful and be competitive on a national and global scale that there’s almost an incentive to try to dramatically change and reform and restructure our education system.”
The bill could receive a hearing Wednesday before the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education.