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RRC embraces Q Comp

LAMBERTON -- School teachers have precious little time to collaborate on ways to improve their teaching methods, Education Commissioner Alice Seagren told an assembly of Red Rock Central students and staff Wednesday.

"Q Comp changes all that," she said.

Seagren officially announced that RRC will become the 16th Minnesota school district to implement the Q Comp performance and professional pay program. To drive the point home, she presented an oversized check to the district amounting to $129,220 in state aid and local revenues for the 2006-2007 school year.

"Q Comp requires some hard work to bring it to conception and completion," Seagren said. "The reason that Q Comp is important to your school is that we really believe, and Gov. (Tim) Pawlenty believes, that teachers need to have support as they are becoming better and better teachers. And in the past, that support has not always been there for them."

The Q Comp program was proposed by Pawlenty last year to provide structured professional development and teacher evaluations through an alternative performance-based pay scale. It includes a locally approved peer evaluation process for every teacher based on skills, responsibilities and student achievement. The voluntary plan adds another $260 per student in participating districts.

Citing research showing approximately 50 percent of classroom teachers leave the profession within their first five years, supporters of Q Comp believe it will aid in recruitment and retention while increasing academic rigor. Districts applying for the program are allowed flexibility within a prescribed model, involving input from both administration and teacher representatives.

Seagren applauded RRC for devising what she said is one of the best plans she has yet seen. The RRC model calls for:

l Career ladders or career advancement opportunities, including the development of five positions of responsibility for the purpose of setting goals and facilitating staff development and for improving teacher effectiveness through mentor training sessions and classroom observation.

l Job-embedded professional development, involving the achievement of measurable student goals.

l Performance pay, involving the establishment of teacher compensation. Pay is based partly on professional evaluations by the administration in conjunction with the observations of teacher "cluster leaders," and partly on the achievement of student objectives through testing.

Seagren praised Q Comp for providing teachers the opportunity to work on strategies during school hours.

"The bottom line, for me, is whatever we do, we want to make sure it's for the students, and your academic opportunities are as high as we can see," she told the assembly.

RRC superintendent John Brennan thanked teachers for wanting to spread the distribution of funds to non-teaching employees. The teachers, he said, strongly appreciated the contributions of janitors, cooks and other support staff and wanted them to share in the rewards. Structuring the program in that way was not allowed under Q Comp, he said, but he used the story as an example of RRC's cooperative spirit.

"Red Rock Central is unique," he said. "They look at this as a family, and they do things together. If I had a hat, I would take it off to the teaching staff."

One RRC teacher, Jenifer Goblish, President-Elect of the RRC Education Association, pointed out prior to the assembly program that Q Comp requires change, which isn't always easy.

"I think it'll be a positive change for the students and the faculty here at Red Rock," Goblish said. "It's a way of reinforcing what we do for our students."

An important issue from the teachers' standpoint, Goblish added, was keeping the district's pay scale largely intact, thus maintaining teacher security, especially for those nearing retirement age. Personally, she said, she looks forward to classroom visits from other teachers.

"I welcome people coming into the classroom and talking to me on ways to improve," Goblish said. "I think we constantly can learn from each other."

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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