Teacher raises for education, experience no longer given

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By Damon Lawrence

Across-the-board pay raises for Tennessee teachers are ending.
Roane County Director of Schools Gary Aytes said the state is moving to a system where raises are awarded on a merit system.
“You can no longer give a raise based on years of experience or degrees,” he said. “I don’t approve of it. I don’t know of any other profession that you don’t get a raise for increasing your experience or your degrees.”
Gary Nixon, executive director for the state board, said the changes could help school districts staff difficult subjects like calculus and physics, in addition to rewarding high-performing teachers. 
“The commissioner (of education) and the board, I think, are striving to give districts flexibility as we move forward,” he said.
The State Board of Education approved the plan on first reading at its April 19 meeting.
Nixon said the board will consider it on final reading during a special-called meeting on June 21. 
“The way they ended up doing it, there’s a base pay for a bachelor’s, a base pay for a master’s, but then nothing else,” Aytes said.
Aytes said the new rules will only apply to state money, and not local.
“We could still give raises based on how we chose,” he said.
Aytes said the school system will have to present a plan to the state within the next year on how it will distribute the state money based on merit.
“I’m sure they’re going to be giving us some guidance on how we’re going to do that,” he said. “You can do it on evaluation scores. You can do it on test data, and then you’re faced with what about all those teachers who do not have test data or value-added scores?”