As a kid, I had strong teachers who helped me to move beyond the limitations of what I had been told was possible. They taught me that I wasn’t just a “math person” or “verbal person,” but a student who could grow and learn through the support of my teachers and my own hard work. I became a teacher to try to share those positive experiences – to teach the next generation of kids that they can succeed no matter their life circumstances.
Good teachers — like the ones I had and like the teacher I’ve tried to be — deserve to be supported in and rewarded for their efforts in the classroom and beyond. Teaching should be viewed as a career with professional autonomy, coupled with meaningful supports and measurable steps toward growth.
For the last decade, some Minnesota teachers have had just such an opportunity. Quality Compensation, or Q Comp, is a program that creates meaningful paths to career advancement, job-embedded professional development, a valuable system of evaluation, and greater flexibility in salary schedule. It helps provide pay incentives for teachers based not just on their years of experience, but on the effect they have on their students. This comprehensive framework supports and validates good teachers and keeps them in the classroom instead of burning out and leaving the profession. Q Comp ensures that we properly value the critical work my colleagues perform.
Unfortunately, despite Q Comp’s promising results (a recent study from the University of Minnesota revealed that Q Comp is raising student performance in schools where it has been implemented), it is hindered by a state-enforced funding cap. We must raise this cap in order to give more schools around our state the chance to benefit from this holistic program. If a majority of teachers in a school want to design and implement a system of supports and incentives for performance through Q Comp, an arbitrary limit on district participation should not stand in their way.
Worth celebrating and replicating
As a teacher leader with Educators 4 Excellence — Minnesota, I’ve spoken to dozens of teachers about their experiences with Q Comp. I hear the same things over and over – Q Comp provides teachers with much-needed support, ownership of student achievement, and the incentive to raise their voices on critical policy issues. It lets administrators see the great work teachers are doing, and fosters greater collaboration at all levels. These things are worth celebrating and replicating in schools throughout our state. Q Comp provides our schools with an opportunity to do that.
Given how stretched our budgets can get in education, it makes sense to invest in programs that are proving to be cost-effective. Q Comp is one research-backed, teacher-supported program that deserves the opportunity to grow to prove its potential. I urge our legislators to raise the funding cap on Q Comp so that more students benefit from an elevated, high-quality teaching profession statewide. This is an investment Minnesota cannot afford to miss.
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