HONOLULU - The Hawaii Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously voted in favor of a plan that would tie teachers' and principals' pay to their performance, as well as develop evaluation criteria at Hawaii's roughly 250 public schools.
The board aims to have these new policies implemented during the 2013-14 school year, though they are subject to collective bargaining negotiations with the teachers union, the Hawaii State Teachers Association.
The union representing principals has agreed to develop an evaluation system effective during the next school year.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie testifies to the state Board of Education in Honolulu on Tuesday.
Hawaii promised to institute these policies as part of reforms it's pursuing with a $75 million federal Race to the Top grant.
But the state has struggled to put them in place amid objections from the teachers union. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education warned Hawaii that it wasn't making acceptable progress on its reforms and could lose almost all its grant money if it didn't improve.
Education board Chairman Don Horner said the vote reflected the board's commitment to ensuring that the state Department of Education implements a fair and consistent evaluation system that accurately reflects the performance of employees.
"Hawaii has outstanding educators, and a proper functioning evaluation system is essential to ensure (that) the hard work and dedication of our professionals is recognized, encouraged and rewarded and that we are all working together toward clear student achievement objectives," he said in a statement.
Al Nagasako, the HSTA's executive director, was the only one to testify against the policies at the board's meeting Tuesday. He asked the board to rephrase the policy to say they "shall" be subject to collective bargaining instead of "may" be subject to union negotiations. The board didn't adopt his request but offered assurances that teachers would be included in the process.
"We've got to protect the fact that teachers need to be there for this whole evaluation performance management system to be effective," Nagasako said.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie testified in favor of the policies. He said it's an employer's obligation and responsibility to set expectations, evaluate performance, provide feedback and support improvement for its employees.
"Connecting a child with an effective teacher is the most important thing that a school does to influence the child's educational outcome. That's a universal that everyone can understand. You have an opportunity to move that forward today," he told the board.
Teachers union members in January rejected a contract that included an evaluation system they weren't comfortable with.
The union submitted a new contract proposal to the state Feb. 28, but Abercrombie criticized it as "fiscally irresponsible and devoid of reasonable policy regarding standards and performance."