In a common-sense world, a person’s pay is at least somehow related to how well he or she does the job they were hired to do. It should be true of teachers. Bend-La Pine Schools has moved slightly in that direction with a plan that rewards those whose skills and efforts outside the classroom make them better teachers, and, by extension, more valuable to the school district.

PASS, the district’s Professional Advancement and Support System, has been in the works since 2011, according to an article in The Bulletin that appeared Monday. It currently involves the district’s least experienced teachers, those in their first year on the job, though second- and third-year teachers may also take part.

Teachers in the PASS program must have their work reviewed by two peers and an administrator, none from the PASS teacher’s school. In addition, coursework they take to move up the pay scale must advance not only their personal goals, but those of the district, as well. PASS teachers also have access to mentors who have time to provide on-the-job assistance.

Teachers who do well in PASS are rewarded by moving up the pay scale, getting more money for their work than they otherwise would. The district gets teachers who have worked not only to improve their teaching skills but also taken classes related to the subjects they’ve been hired to teach.

It’s a win-win program from both sides of the table.

Now, says Assistant Superintendent Lora Nordquist, those working on PASS are preparing for the next step. They’re looking at PASS and how it relates to teachers at the upper end of the pay scale.

The whole idea of merit pay has been anathema to teachers’ unions in general, but PASS should benefit teachers as much as it does their employers. Teachers who are working to improve themselves and their value to the district should be rewarded for those efforts, and the district is putting both money and personnel into seeing that they succeed. If what all sides want is top-notch teachers who are paid adequately, PASS is likely to help them accomplish that goal.

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