KCS teacher pay change coming soon

State test scores to no longer be used in pay decisions

MORE CASH? Kingsport City Schools teachers like Amanda Cox will see some changes in their pay check next school year.

ShayLeigh Honaker

MORE CASH? Kingsport City Schools teachers like Amanda Cox will see some changes in their pay check next school year.

By ShayLeigh Honaker, John Sevier Middle School

For the last few years, Kingsport City Schools has based teacher pay in part on students’ TNReady scores. Next year, this is set to change. TNReady scores will no longer count towards teachers’ overall pay.

“Several years ago, the Tennessee Department of Education laid out rules that some school systems were going to follow,” Andy True, the Assistant Superintendent for Kingsport City Schools, said. “They made a rule saying that school systems were going to have to incorporate TNReady scores in teachers salary.”

Kingsport City Schools got lots of teachers together and figured out what this was going to look like in Kingsport. A lot of work went into this effort. Then, the Tennessee Department of Education said that this was no longer a rule.

“Kingsport City Schools had spent so much time on it that what we were working on was just added into the payment method,” True said. “It was a little harder to get more teachers because of the way we pay teachers. That is also one of the reasons why this had to change.”

Marci Mims is a seventh grade student at Sevier Middle.

“I think this is wrong, because if a student fails, it should not affect someone else’s paycheck,” she said. “I’m very excited for this change to come, and I think it is a change that has been necessary for a long time.”

Nyla Jemes, an eighth grade student, disagrees.

“The system the school board has now is kinda strange, in my opinion, but overall seems fair because it shows what the teachers taught their students,” she said. “In think the system is perfectly fine just how it is.”

There were not really any complaints from teachers when the system changed. Still, teachers seem happy that TNReady scores will not be part of their pay anymore.

“In some cases, teachers have honors classes and others do not,” Carole Long, a 6th grade teacher said. “This probably influenced pay because of students’ work ethic. Although we all want to be accountable for a student’s learning, I feel it is a good change for the next school year. A student’s grade on one test is not always an accurate reflection of a teacher’s knowledge of content and ability to teach.”

John Mallick, an 8th grade teacher, agrees with Long.

“I was unsure of my pay until the scores came out; I really disliked that,” he said. “I like that the test scores will no longer count toward teachers pay for the next school year.”

The old payment method is going to be taken completely out of the system.

“This new way of paying teachers was decided last spring by the compensation committee,” True said. “The compensation committee is a group of teachers who talk and look at things to better our schools.”

The new system is still being developed this year, but will have nothing to do students’ TNReady scores. The current plan is to use this new system next year and for many years to come.

“What we have told teachers is that we hope that it’s done by winter so everyone can understand it by the spring,” True said. “The new system is being discussed by the compensation committee and the finance department to ensure that we can afford it.”

Danny Hernandez is a seventh grade student. He agrees with this change.

“My thoughts on this is that it’s right, but due to the students that don’t do their work or listen or even get a good grade,” he said. “Why should the teachers be punished for their students not doing the right thing or even trying. That is why I feel this will be a positive change, so bad students don’t make teachers’ lives worse.”

The TNReady scores will no longer count for teacher pay, but the scores will still count towards the students’ grades.

“TNReady scores will still count for students grades,” True said. “This is because a state law says that is has to.”

Most students seem to agree that TNReady scores should count as part of their grad

“I do think TNReady scores should still count for all of our grades,” Mims said. “Students will receive what they deserve which is good in my opinion.”

Hernandez agrees.

“Students who paid attention will get a boost on their grade, the students who did not listen will get a small deduction,” he said.

In the end, Kingsport City Schools is making a lot of teachers happy with this new change.

“Kingsport City Schools hopes this will have a positive effect on teachers, so this is more fair towards all of the teachers,” True said. “I am happy to be able to go down this path and make such a significant change to the Kingsport City Schools.”

This story was originally published on The Sequoyah Scribe on November 8, 2019.