Houston may cut teacher bonuses

Ninety-two percent of Houston teachers earned performance bonuses this year. Superintendent Terry Grier said he’ll take a “hard look” at the $42 million program, reports the Houston Chronicle.

On average, classroom teachers received more than $3,000.  The largest teacher bonus, $11,330, went to Andres Balp, who’s taught fourth grade for 17 years.  Principals averaged $5,000. Jose Espinoza, a middle-school principal, received the top award, $15,530, in his category.  Top administrators averaged $10,000. Grier received $18,000.

The bonuses are based on a value-added analysis of students’ scores on a state and national exam compared to their past performance.

Among teachers, those in the core academic subject areas — such as English and math — qualify for the most money.

Other school employees, teachers in non-tested subjects and those at younger grade levels earn money based on campus-wide student performance. The teachers whose students improve the most get the most money.

The formula is too complicated to understand, said Jennifer Blessington, an English teacher who pocketed a $7,800 bonus. “It truly feels like you’re winning the lottery,” she said.

With the state in financial trouble, the grant that funds the bonuses may be cut. Even if the money is there, Grier wants to be more selective about who gets it.

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  1. Former Houston ISD Teacher says:

    Actually we don’t know if the formula to determine ASPIRE bonuses is complicated or not. We teachers of HISD were told that it is proprietary and, therefore, secret. ASPIRE is like winning the lottery. Some years our students improved in a huge way and we got small bonuses. Other years improvement is more subtle and we get larger bonuses. We just never know.

    I have left HISD and one of the many reasons is that I resent the implication that teachers are holding back and will only perform to the best of their abilities if there is a possibility of a bonus. And that particular attitude is pervasive in the higher ranks of the district.

  2. Tim-10-ber says:

    If one is to be evaluated (and I firmly believe teachers should be) it is only fair the teacher understands how (and on what) they are being measured.