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Q Comp for MPS: An opportunity to elevate the teaching profession

REUETERS/Jim Young
Q Comp has the potential to advance teaching and learning.

This week, Minneapolis educators have the opportunity to take a step forward toward elevating our profession by valuing and supporting effective teaching.

Holly Kragthorpe

Members of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) are casting their votes this week to determine if our district should take part in the Quality Compensation (Q Comp) program offered by the state since 2005. Q Comp provides funding for teacher leadership roles, job-embedded professional development including more collaboration time, improved implementation of teacher evaluation, performance pay for student achievement, and alternative compensation for teachers taking additional courses.

Over $9 million for Minneapolis Public Schools is at stake if teachers approve the agreement that has already been approved by the Minneapolis Public Schools Board and accepted by the Minnesota Department of Education.

As a teacher, I support this effort and would encourage my colleagues to vote yes as well. While imperfect, the Q Comp plan has the potential to improve student learning, especially if it’s implemented in a way that includes more input from a wider variety of educators.

Would support site-based and data-based decisions

I am voting yes for the possibility of how Q Comp could advance teaching and learning. Schools need this plan to support site-based and data-based decisions to meet our unique student needs in order to provide truly job-embedded professional development for teachers.

I am voting yes for including teacher voices and teacher expertise in creating an innovative Q Comp plan that supports sites like my school — Ramsey Middle School — that have outcomes-based, student-based teacher leadership models in place. These sites where teacher leadership is strong and school culture is healthy are desperately seeking district support to sustain their hard work.

I am voting yes in support of what the plan could be if MPS and the MFT work with teachers to continue to improve it over the course of the year. Q Comp could be one of the ways to increase student achievement, narrow the achievement gap, and raise the professionalism of teaching. However, to do that, teachers themselves need to be more actively involved in shaping this plan. We need to encourage significant changes in teacher practice to increase student achievement; and this plan needs to go further to do accomplish that goal.

Ways plan can be improved

In particular, I think the plan must be strengthened to include stronger student-centered outcomes, clearer indicators for success, and more innovative career pathways that reward teacher expertise and keep teacher leaders from leaving the classroom. I want to be part of shaping the outcomes or indicators for success in this MPS Q Comp proposal and any others going forward.

I am voting yes because I am against the status quo even though the current plan needs to go further to change it. I am voting yes because I am searching for ways to become a better teacher, and I see Q Comp as an opportunity to support me in someday becoming a board certified teacher and in getting better results for students. Please help me become a better teacher. Vote yes.

Holly Kragthorpe is a teacher in the Minneapolis Public Schools, a union steward for the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, and a school captain for Educators 4 Excellence of Minnesota.

WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?

If you’re interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, email Susan Albright atsalbright@minnpost.com.)

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 09/26/2013 - 09:53 am.

    Every one above average….

    (quote)

    Teachers appear to like the program. In the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school district, the largest in the state to use Q-Comp last year, teachers voted overwhelmingly in November to continue the system, said Jim Smola, president of the district’s teachers union.

    All but one of the district’s 2,032 teachers received performance pay, with an average bonus of $1,784. Fourteen percent got the maximum $2,000 bonus.

    http://www.twincities.com/old/home/ci_22801498/if-most-teachers-get-bonus-does-minnesotas-q

    (end quote)

  2. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/26/2013 - 02:31 pm.

    Consdier the Source

    Let us not forget that Q-comp was originally proposed by former MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty as a way to keep teacher salaries down, in the hopes of not giving the vast majority of teachers any increases in salary and benefits while using “merit pay” to claim that ANY teacher could earn such a raise if he or she just worked harder.

    Ms. Kragthorpe, herself, commented, “I think the plan must be strengthened to include stronger student-centered outcomes, clearer indicators for success, and more innovative career pathways that reward teacher expertise and keep teacher leaders from leaving the classroom,” leading me to believe that the system has VERY serious shortcomings. Perhaps she is unaware that Minnesota HAS created innovative career pathways for those wishing to enter the teaching professions, but very few people have taken advantage of them.

    Indeed, if, as Mr. Rovick comments above, the vast majority of teachers ARE given “merit pay,” based on their excellent work, what’s the point of Q-comp at all? In fact, it’s very likely that those teachers NOT receiving Q-comp, i.e. the ones most likely to need to leave the profession, will not do so just because of Q-comp and NOTHING will have been accomplished at all beyond giving teachers compensation they should have received anyway.

    I would far prefer that teachers receive adequate compensation for their work, their level of education and their experience, while administrators take the steps necessary to weed out those who aren’t up to the job (which CAN be accomplished, despite claims to the contrary).

    Indeed, that’s the way the system was always supposed to work in the first place. Why not strengthen THOSE mechanisms. Why not teach administrators how to evaluate their teachers, help those who can improve their work to do so, while properly documenting those who seem unwilling to change or unable to do an adequate job so that they can be helped to find a different career?

    More than likely because our “conservative” friends have gotten far too much mileage for far too many years by claiming that inadequate teachers can’t be moved out of the profession after they’re tenured and, thereby, successfully convinced the unwary, the unwise, and the ignorant that the teacher’s professional organizations are what’s “wrong” with our educational system,…

    a system which was one of the best in the world until our “conservative” friends started “fixing” it.

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