Incentive program has made difference locally

A review by a Twin Cities newspaper has found that of the more than 10,000 metro educators who participate in the Q-Comp system, 99 percent received bonuses last year. Those bonuses averaged $1,864.

Statewide, about a third of districts, including Fairmont Area, are involved in the voluntary program, on which Minnesota spends $76 million annually.

Does it make sense that nearly every teacher gets a bonus? Not in the context of what Q-Comp was supposed to do, namely reward excellence and even tie student performance to teacher pay.

However, Q-Comp also involves teacher mentoring, peer observation and professional development, all of which teachers take on of their own accord. If teachers do these things, they will learn and improve. They will be better in the classroom, and better at using what they know to help peers and newcomers. All of that does merit reward. We know participants in Fairmont have praised the program for helping them become better at what they do.

We believe critics of Q-Comp really have something else in mind. They want to tackle problem test scores at problem schools. There is probably a tie to the quality of teachers involved, but attracting quality teachers to those schools likely involves more than pay. And that tie has little to do with what is happening in places like Fairmont.

Some will say that teachers should simply work hard and do their jobs. But it is not unheard of for employees in various professions to get ongoing training and even receive incentive pay.