HISD awarded $31.5M for merit pay program

WASHINGTON For HISD, the strategy is simple -- the better the teacher, the more money they can earn. But it's how they earn that money that's been criticized. A recent survey concluded better student scores on standardized testing wasn't necessarily the result of cash bonuses for teachers. HISD Superintendent Dr. Terry Grier stood by this merit pay program called ASPIRE.

"Our district is really a reward program which rewards teachers that get good results," Dr. Grier explained.

The US Department of Education agrees, giving 61 school districts nationwide $442 million to create merit pay programs. HISD will receive $31.5 million.

HISD will spend about half on their ASPIRE program:

  • $5.4 million for a new career program for teachers
  • $3.5 million to develop new a teacher appraisal program
  • $2.5 million for a talent acquisition program
  • About $900,000 for a new principal appraisal system
  • The rest will be used to buy materials. All of it, says Dr. Grier, is aimed at getting and keeping top educators. It's progress, he says, that is already tangible. HISD's enrollment is up this year and the dropout rate has dipped to 15.8 percent this year.

    Dr. Grier said, "You're paid basically on your years of experience and on your degree. We know there is little correlation between your degree and your effectiveness in producing higher student academic gains."

    ASPIRE was a program created by Dr. Grier's predecessor but he says he will continue the program.

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