It’s three months into the school year, and Memphis teachers still aren’t seeing the 3 percent raise promised to top educators working for Shelby County Schools — a delay that district leaders blame on the wait for state test scores.
Administrators for Tennessee’s largest district initially said the raises would begin showing up in paychecks in October. Now they’re targeting late November at the earliest.
Superintendent Dorsey Hopson emailed teachers Monday explaining that the raises, which will be retroactive, can’t take effect until the State Department of Education releases its teacher performance data, which includes standardized test scores. Earlier this month, the state announced plans to release the first scores of the TNReady era in November. Those scores will be for high school students only, since the state canceled tests for grades 3-8 last spring after ongoing problems administering the new assessment.
Hopson also wrote state Education Commissioner Candice McQueen on Monday asking for an updated timeline in behalf of district educators.
“Rightly so, they are dissatisfied with this delay and apprehensive about our commitment to provide the increases,” Hopson wrote. “Again, please provide us with the requested timeline so that we can reward our high-performing teachers with the raises they were promised and deserve.”
McQueen replied on Tuesday, assuring him that the state is “moving as expeditiously as possible to get data back to you, your students, and your teachers.”
“Right now, we are anticipating that we will have TVAAS data and evaluation composites available in early November, with the full TVAAS restricted site available in December,” McQueen wrote.
In Tennessee, teacher evaluations are tied to student scores on the state’s standardized tests. Due to the cancellation of TNReady tests for grades 3-8, Shelby County Schools will rely on guidance from the state’s evaluation model for rating teachers of those grades.
Once the district receives the scores from the state, it could take up to several weeks to verify the scores and calculate which teachers will be eligible for raises, a district spokeswoman said. This means it could be late November or December until eligible teachers see a bump in their salaries.
Leaders of the Memphis district say they are being judicious as they also seek to deliver the raises in a timely manner.
“Since we have chosen to distribute performance-based raises, we want to do so with accuracy and completeness,” the district said in a statement sent to Chalkbeat.