Tuesday evening the unified Shelby County Schools board voted to change the way teachers are compensated.
For many teachers it will be based on the gains made by their students.
This is something the teachers union has been fighting against for years. The 23 member board debated teacher pay for more than an hour. In their March meeting, the board voted to keep pay as it always had been - teachers with the most seniority and advanced degrees received the highest pay.
But groups like Stand For Children and the Gates Foundations have said those factors don't always indicate the best teachers and have advocated that teacher pay be tied to student performance. The school board voted to move that direction.
The details are still being worked out, but the board vote was a signal to teachers that advanced degrees will no longer mean an automatic pay bump starting in the 2014 school year. Existing teachers will be grandfathered in but new teachers could opt into the new pay scale.
Teachers who have students showing the most gains in testing data, called TVAAS (Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System), will have the opportunity to make as much as $70,000 - $100,000 annually.
"We should be paying teachers more," said Kenya Bradshaw with Stand For Children. "We always talk about what the NBA athletes and others get paid, we should make sure our teachers are paid sufficiently and should also tie their compensation to student outcomes."
"The data in and of itself is not the holy grail," added Keith Williams of the Memphis Education Association. "It is certainly questionable. The State of Florida and the National Education Association has filed a federal lawsuit against TVAAS because they know it is not a valid measure of a teacher. Teachers grow children in a number of ways."