Iowa teachers might have to accept larger class sizes if they expect increased salaries, under one model model presented to a state task force on teacher pay. The task force heard Friday from officials at a Colorado school district where teachers get paid based on their evaluations and student performance, and for taking on new leadership rolls.
The officials report a small increase in class size as master teachers leave the classroom to mentor other teachers. Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass agrees that lower class sizes do lead to student achievement.
“But the question is, are we willing to invest the hundreds of millions of dollars necessary to get the class size low enough that it has an impact, and what do we give up in exchange for that large expenditure. Everything’s a tradeoff,” according to Glass.
Glass says high performing schools around the world have accepted larger classes in order to pay teachers more. “I think we have to have that conversation. The United States is among the top spenders around the world and we have some of the lowest class sizes in the world, but our results are mediocre,“ Glass said.
Task force member Tammy Wawro is president of the Iowa State Education Association, the state’s largest teacher union. She is skeptical about the idea of increasing class sizes.
“Class size does matter and class size tradeoff does concern me, and it should concern parents,” Wawro said. The Colorado officials say student performance has improved But they admit there was strong opposition at first and many teachers left.
The Iowa task force will make its recommendations for changing Iowa’s teacher compensation system later this fall.