Evaluating teachers, a complicated task. Differentiated salary of teachers according to performance criteria, in negotiations

Unions actually oppose differential pay for teachers based on performance criteria, say Education experts. They explained for “truth” and what should be the performance criteria according to which teachers are evaluated and paid so that Romania has better results in the national exams.

Teachers could receive salaries based on performance – PHOTO World vision

The unions in Education have started negotiations with the Ministry of Education for the criteria that will be the basis of the differentiated salary of teachers. We remind you that on April 1, the Ministry of Education announced that it had decided “setting up a working group” with unions, as “to develop the Methodology project regarding REMUNERATION differentiated teaching staff based on performance criteria“.

These steps come in the context where, in the report “Strengthening the governance of pre-university education in Romania”developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, among the 18 framework recommendations of the OECD for the continuation of the reform in Romania are also “review the teacher pay system to strengthen the link between performance and reward and improve transparency“, according to the Federation of Free Trade Unions in Education.

Practically, the teachers' salary system lacks teacher evaluation, regardless of how it would be done, either through performance evaluated through school progress or through a teaching career model that would stimulate competition and efficiency. Such criteria are actually missing from almost the entire budget system, which reduces efficiency and favors corruption, according to experts.

I cannot accept that a teacher who has 10 Olympians should be paid the same as one where the entire class did not take the Baccalaureate. (…) I ask Minister Deca to come up with solutions regarding the performance criteria in Education. We cannot expect a miracle to happen just by raising wages. Performance criteria should be introduced according to which salaries will increase”, Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu said recently.

According to the Minister of Education, these performance-based salary criteria for teachers are being worked on with OECD experts – Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in order to find a multifactorial system.

In 2016 there were also discussions about the introduction of performance criteria in education, but the unions rejected performance-based pay

Who does not want such criteria

Moreover, the former Minister of Education Mircea Miclea said that a salary of 1,500-1,800 euros would attract quality human resources.

I think it should be around 1,500-1,800 euros a net average salary, then it could attract a quality resource, and this salary could increase as skills or qualities appear in the way teaching is done in that school and once with career advancement”, said Mircea Miclea.

And Marian Staș, professor at Harvard, believes that this should be a civilized salary. But, “the current model is cynically maintained by the unionists, because that preserves their power, i.e. mediocrity, because the moment they start to shake things up and rock the ship, obviously 80% of the teachers will actually be given as unprofessional as it should bee”, explained Marian Staș for “truth“.

The mathematics teacher Ștefan Vlaston proposes the introduction of a standardized evaluation system in education, which would be the basis for teachers' salary and career advancement. However, he also claims that in all this “unions are vehemently opposed because teachers should be pushing for advancement“.

They don't want that, because teachers will come out who want to earn money doing nothing. Maximum benefits with minimum efforts. Competition is the mother of quality. Well, if you have the same salary, whether you work or not, you get the same salary. But at the moment, a teacher cannot be kicked out of the system, no matter how stupid he is, because there is no such mechanism in the law“, adds the math teacher.

Of course we shouldn't generalize, because there are also teachers “with passion in the blood, dealing with students, but what is the proportion? Would it be 10%, would it be 20%?“, Ștefan Vlaston asks.

The only time we do an assessment is at the Baccalaureate and the National Assessment, but even there we don't know how much is owed to the meditators. Because the same teachers who are doing nothing at school are doing meditation”he adds.

How can school progress be measured

Ștefan Vlaston suggested the implementation of a system to measure school progress. “In my opinion, the main criterion, if not the only one, in essence, is the scholastic progress of the students. For nothing, some teachers tell me that they want to be evaluated by their own performance, not by their students. What other performance can they assess if not related to the student's academic progress?“, he points out.

School progress also means if you take students from 3 to 5. It's about statistics. Many have told me that some students are less prepared, others are smarter. All right, we're working with statistics. A teacher has 200 students, as far as I know, they can't all be weak, they are so and so. And when you statistically average a student's academic progress, you see the effort there, too. You started with them from grade 3 at the beginning of the year, these are predictive tests. And you take another test at the end of the year, and compare the grades. Did they grow or didn't they grow? So there is school progress if you go from 3 to 5, if you go from 5 to 7, if I keep them at 8, 9 all school progress, if I keep them on the top rung. And there is school progress with a minus, if you want school regression, you take them from 6 and take them to 4“, adds the expert.

For objectivity, the mathematics teacher proposes the creation of unitary item bases, standardized at the national level, the generation of evaluations with the help of computer applications in order to be able to measure the school progress of the students.

Each pool should have three categories: minimum, medium and depth, and the computer should choose one third of each. Tests should be grid“, explains the teacher.

The immovability of teachers

On the other hand, Marian Staș proposes the opening of the human resources market.

The alternative, for sure, is one that this mediocre system and all the trade unions and securisms and the politically enslaved school would not accept. The alternative, from my point of view, is the opening of the human resources market, that is, comprehensive decentralization, managerial, financial, curricular and human resources. In other words, extract this whole story with the county directorates and open the market between schools. Created the market for transfer and moving staff between schools, combined with a teaching career model, which will be the one that defines the next path of teachers“, explains the teacher.

He believes that another key reason for the decline in performance is “vegetating, hardening on the fast“. “The fact that 40 years does nothing but the same thing, obviously you do worse and worse, you get bored and so on“.

The hypocrisy of the system is that as long as there will be tenure, i.e. immovability in the system, discussing performance and pay based on performance is nonsense. It is a major, essential, structural, systemic hypocrisy, because the moment the fellow teacher or the fellow teacher becomes permanent, i.e. they are tenured in the system for life, it is over with any stimulating factor, with any element that stimulates us, to motivate the performance . It is natural that it should be so“, explained Marian Staș.

That is why he proposes a teaching career framework model for “getting out of mediocrity,” which shows what teachers could do throughout their careers both financially and educationally.

teaching career model png
The teaching career model proposed by Marian Staș - Photo Marian Staș

The teaching career model proposed by Marian Staș – Photo Marian Staș

Merit grading, totally different

A first step that should have stimulated competition between teachers is the merit grading, which, in 2024, changes according to Law 198/2023, without any connection with the promises in the Educated Romania Report. The increase of 25% of the salary, granted for a period of 5 years for 16% of the teachers in each county, will be established according to the new rules. According to an Edupedu.ro analysis, these rules do not reflect the intentions stated in the Report supported by President Klaus Iohannis in July 2021.

Initially, this report emphasized the need for a periodic evaluation of teachers' skills, which would promote competition and not be based only on seniority. The innovations in the scoring of teachers within the merit grading include the scoring on the self-assessment sheet of the participation of pro bono teachers in the simulation of the National Assessment and the Baccalaureate, as well as the involvement in their organization.