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Austin Teachers Could Soon See Pay Raises Based on Classroom Performance

A view from Austin ISD's headquarters on W. 6th St.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News
A year-long effort to boost Austin ISD teachers' salaries would base pay raises on an instructor's personal and professional improvements.

If you’re a teacher in an Austin public school, it’s hard to get a pay raise. Teachers who start out in Austin make around $45,000 a year. If they stay in the district for 20 years, on average, their annual salary increases by just $5,000 in that time, but some in the Austin Independent School District are trying to change that.

The school district is creating a new system that changes the way it evaluates teachers, helps them grow professionally and pays them, called the Professional Pathways for Teachers. It’s been in the works for more than a year with the help of AISD’s employee union, Education Austin, along with teachers, principals and district staff.

“You shouldn’t have to be here thirty years to get to $55,000,” says Education Austin President Ken Zarifis.

AISD is one of the lowest-paying urban school districts in the state and has the highest cost of living. Zarifis says many teachers become principals to make more money.

“We don’t want our best teachers stepping out of the classroom going into administration unless that’s really their goal,” he says. “Teaching is a very horizontal profession. There’s not a lot of growth.”

The first step was to approve a new teacher evaluation system, which happened this week. Starting this fall, 10 percent of a teacher evaluation will be tied to student standardized test scores. Most of the evaluation will focus on instructional practice – how they teach in the classroom.

The evaluation is also tied to professional growth, focusing on whether they’re trying to become better teachers and how well they’re collaborating with other teachers. The district’s methodology to compensate teachers for those things will be presented to the school board in April.

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