Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh told Business Council of Alabama’s Tuesday Briefing today that he supports business and education collaborating to improve education in order to ensure that students are ready for the workplace or their continued education.
Marsh described his yet-to-be-introduced “Rewarding Advancement in Instruction and Student Excellence Act” (RAISE Act) that will reward teachers and create a fair evaluation system for schools based partly on student performance.
Marsh said teachers will get raises out of the 2016 legislative session, which began Feb. 2. “The raise is deserved but going forward we have to find a way to reward systems that are getting the job done,” he said at BCA’s Tuesday briefing, which was sponsored by AT&T Alabama.
Marsh, R-Anniston, said his proposed RAISE Act will include several components: Maintain the highest pay in the Southeast for starting Alabama teachers; reward improving schools; provide incentives to teachers that work in hard-to-serve areas; provide mentoring of younger teachers; and increase the tenure track from three to five years.
The cost is of the programs will be about $18 million.
“We have to boost teachers,” Marsh said. “You cannot argue that they have the biggest impact on what we do.”
Marsh said contrary to the belief of many who have called him, his RAISE Act will not link student performance to individual teacher evaluations. “A pay raise is not connected with this act,” he said.
Marsh said the goal of a business and education collaboration is to produce graduates that are ready to enter the workforce and to reduce expensive remedial education after high school graduation.
Business Education Alliance of Alabama President and Chairman Joe Morton, Ph.D., said many of Marsh’s proposals are found in the BEA’s 2015 “Teachers Matter” report that was compiled by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama.
“Your RAISE ACT described today incorporates all of those key components that research shows will move the needle in improving teaching performance and student performance,” Morton said. “Our goal is to combine the best thoughts of educators and the best thoughts of business leaders.”
Marsh said that while his legislation won’t link student achievement to teacher pay, it will include student achievement as part of a school’s evaluation. The state has adopted an evaluation system that includes student performance of 25 percent but it’s not fully implemented.
“Obviously student performance when you have evaluation of education, performance is an important factor,” he said. “I think the raise is deserved but going forward we have to find a way to reward those teachers and systems that are getting the job done.”
“The RAISE Act shows appreciation to education and respect for the profession,” Marsh said.
But it will include accountability. “The people are demanding that,” he said.
Marsh said the General Fund for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 should move from the House to the Senate and pass early in the session.