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Tried It, Didn’t Like It

In Minnesota ’s ongoing wrestling match over pay-for-performance, many teachers feel the state department of education is pushing districts like Le Center toward the approach Gov. Tim Pawlenty originally proposed, an approach the legislature never passed (see main story).

Something very like Pawlenty’s proposal was pilot-tested two years ago in rural Waseca, Minnesota. It’s called “Teachers Advancement Program” (TAP), and it’s promoted by the Milken Family Foundation. Some teachers think TAP was the model for Pawlenty’s proposals.

In Waseca under TAP, school-wide test scores together with individual evaluations by “master” teachers determined whether you got your bonus. One of Waseca’s four “master” teachers had never actually taught, says Roxanne Meyer, co-president of the Waseca Education Association and an 18-year classroom veteran.

Teachers also objected to the professional development that came with the plan. It was one-size-fits-all and very elementary, according to Meyer. “Some of the things they were teaching us, you learn your first year in college.” she says. The approach was rigidly rubric-driven. “There’s a flow and rhythm to teaching, like pitching in a baseball game. With their approach, you were constantly interrupting to teach their strategy.”

Waseca teachers voted TAP out overwhelmingly last spring.

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