Chalkbeat explains

What you need to know about the $7 million set aside for Memphis teacher raises in 2018

PHOTO: Laura Faith Kebede

If you’re a teacher working in Shelby County Schools, you probably have a hard time figuring out whether or not you are getting a pay increase and how much should show up in your paycheck.

Now that Superintendent Dorsey Hopson has set aside $7 million for teacher pay raises in next year’s budget, Chalkbeat explains which teachers will get a raise, how much, and why.

Most teachers are eligible for a raise. Teachers with an evaluation score of 3 or higher on a 5-point scale will receive a raise. About 96 percent of teachers fit in that category, according to the latest district numbers.

The teacher evaluation system for Shelby County Schools is based on state test growth and achievement, classroom observations, and student surveys. It is known as the Teacher Effectiveness Measure, or TEM.

But this system has been fraught with problems for the last two years because of a bumpy rollout of Tennessee’s new test.

The history. In 2016, Hopson tried to award raises based on evaluation scores, but a delay in state test scores — which play a role in teacher evaluations — prompted him to give raises across the board instead. The next year, another glitch in student test scores compromised some teacher evaluations, but Hopson assured teachers their pay would not be affected.

But before the district started basing pay on teacher evaluations, Shelby County Schools temporarily reactivated pay increases based on years of experience after district leaders noticed some new teachers were getting paid more than experienced ones. Once those inequities were addressed, the district switched to pay increases based on teacher evaluation scores.

The amount of an increase depends on a teacher’s evaluation score. The pay raises are not percentages of a teacher’s salary like in years past. Each evaluation score has a dollar amount attached.

  • Level 3 = $750
  • Level 4 = $1,000
  • Level 5 = $1,500

Under the new pay system, the maximum salary for teachers was increased slightly to $73,000. Level 4 or 5 teachers with advanced degrees or who are in hard-to-staff areas such as special education, math and science are also eligible for bonuses.

Top teacher

Franklin educator is Tennessee’s 2018-19 Teacher of the Year

Melissa Miller leads her students in a learning game at Franklin Elementary School in Franklin Special School District in Williamson County. Miller is Tennessee's 2018-19 Teacher of the Year.

A first-grade teacher in Franklin is Tennessee’s Teacher of the Year.

Melissa Miller

Melissa Miller, who works at Franklin Elementary School, received the 2018-19 honor for excellence in the classroom Thursday evening during a banquet in Nashville.

A teacher for 19 years, she is National Board Certified, serves as a team leader and mentor at her school, and trains her colleagues on curriculum and technology in Franklin’s city school district in Williamson County, just south of Nashville. She will represent Tennessee in national competition and serve on several working groups with the state education department.

Miller was one of nine finalists statewide for the award, which has been presented to a Tennessee public school teacher most every year since 1960 as a way to promote respect and appreciation for the profession. The finalists were chosen based on scoring from a panel of educators; three regional winners were narrowed down following interviews.

In addition to Miller, who also won in Middle Tennessee, the state recognized Lori Farley, a media specialist at North City Elementary School in Athens City Schools, in East Tennessee. Michael Robinson, a high school social studies teacher at Houston High School in Germantown Municipal School District, was this year’s top teacher in West Tennessee.

Education Commissioner Candice McQueen praised the finalists for leading their students to impressive academic gains and growth. She noted that “teachers are the single most important factor in improving students’ achievement.”

Last year’s statewide winner was Cicely Woodard, an eighth-grade math teacher in Nashville who has since moved to a middle school in the same Franklin district as Miller.

You can learn more about Tennessee’s Teacher of the Year program here.


Have you thought about teaching? Colorado teachers union sells the profession in new videos

PHOTO: Colorado Education Association

There are a lot of factors contributing to a shortage of teachers in Colorado and around the nation. One of them — with potentially long-term consequences — is that far fewer people are enrolling in or graduating from teacher preparation programs. A recent poll found that more than half of respondents, citing low pay and lack of respect, would not want their children to become teachers.

Earlier this year, one middle school teacher told Chalkbeat the state should invest in public service announcements to promote the profession.

“We could use some resources in Colorado to highlight how attractive teaching is, for the intangibles,” said Mary Hulac, who teaches English in the Greeley-Evans district. “I tell my students every day, this is the best job.

“You learn every day as a teacher. I’m a language arts teacher. When we talk about themes, and I hear a story through another student’s perspective, it’s always exciting and new.”

The Colorado Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, has brought some resources to help get that message out with a series of videos aimed at “up-and-coming professionals deciding on a career.” A spokesman declined to say how much the union was putting into the ad buy.

The theme of the ads is: “Change a life. Change the world.”

“Nowhere but in the education profession can a person have such a profound impact on the lives of students,” association President Amie Baca-Oehlert said in a press release. “We want to show that teaching is a wonderful and noble profession.”

As the union notes, “Opportunities to teach in Colorado are abundant.”

One of the ads features 2018 Colorado Teacher of the Year Christina Randle.

“Are you ready to be a positive role model for kids and have a direct impact on the future?” Randle asks.

Another features an education student who was inspired by her own teachers and a 20-year veteran talking about how much she loves her job.

How would you sell the teaching profession to someone considering their career options? Let us know at