Around 27,000 teachers in Romania, i.e. 16% of the total teaching staff, are eligible for merit gradation, a 25% increase in salary for five years. The new bill comes with an important change: school boards, not inspectorates, as before, will evaluate teachers. Six teachers explained to School 9 how didactic excellence became “a rush for certificates”.
Constantin Lomaca is today the head of the Science Department at the Franconian International School in Erlangen, Germany, but he has international experience in the field of education. The teacher says that he has never worked in any school outside where a salary increase was granted based on a file as it is in our country. “This kind of file is useful, but only correlated with the way you present yourself at the interview and the needs of the employer (that is, if schools really have autonomy in hiring teachers),” said the teacher for School 9.
“The greatest reward for teachers is the satisfaction of the students’ successes and achievements”, Constantin Lomaca believes. “This is not an empty phrase or a cliché, but a reality that any teacher who loves his profession can confirm. On the other hand, teachers are also human and prefer to work in fair and meritocratic systems”, he continues his argument.
All over the world, salaries rise gradually over the first 24 years of employment to 1.7 times the starting salary. “Gradual annual salary increases are made after an assessment with an internal supervisor in the school and are based on external and internal standards. Generally, if you do your job, the increase applies,” explains the professor. Therefore, the salary does not increase automatically with seniority, but is granted following evaluations.
Performance standards for teachers
According to Lomaca, teachers can be paid more by being promoted to positions of responsibility (heads of departments, mentors for beginning teachers, two- to three-year principal coordinators in schools with more students) and leadership (principals, assistant principals, inspectors).
How grades are awarded today
Currently, Romanian teachers can be rewarded with a 25% salary increase for five years. This award is called merit grading and is obtained following a file competition, which is evaluated by a committee made up mostly of school inspectors from each county.
The methodology says that teachers who have at least five years of experience and the grade “Very good” in the inspectorate evaluation of each school year can participate in this competition. This “Very good” is obtained for the didactic activity quantified in student results, innovation, the use of technology and other alternative methods of education, if they have prepared children for various competitions and Olympiads, but also for actions to prevent school dropout or inclusion.
The regulation details the evaluation score for each individual activity and, surprisingly, only one point out of the total of 150 is awarded for “participation with communications in symposia, county, national and/or international conferences, which demonstrate the outstanding performance of the teaching staff in didactic innovation, participation in training courses in the field or in educational management, proven by official documents of the event”.
Total points are awarded for:
The criterion of complex activities with instructive-educational value – 90 points
The criterion for outstanding performance in didactic innovation/educational management – 40 points (of which only one point for participation in communications and symposia)
The criterion regarding extracurricular activities and involvement in projects (including projects with non-refundable European funding: Erasmus+, POSDRU, POCU, cross-border, World Bank and similar)/professional training programs – 15 points
The criterion regarding the contribution to institutional development – 5 points Although the methodology is strict and looks good on paper, several teachers accuse that obtaining the merit degree has nothing to do with merit anymore, but has turned into a “chase for certificates”.
What changes in the new law
According to the new education law, it will no longer be the school inspectorates (county directorates, in the new text of the law) that will evaluate and award merit grades. School boards will have this new role.
“(1) At the level of each pre-university education unit and institution, the activity of teaching staff and auxiliary teaching staff is evaluated annually. The evaluation methodology is established by order of the Minister of Education. (2) The results of the evaluation are the basis of the decision of the board of directors regarding the awarding of the annual qualification and the gradation of merit”. (From the text of the education bill)
Doru Căstăian, professor of socio-humanities in Galati, believes that it is a welcome change. “It’s a good thing in my opinion, it will make the evaluation activity at the school level more responsible and, I hope, it will annihilate the hyperactivity and superficiality that the current methodology promotes,” says the teacher.
“The old methodology is bankrupt, and I can’t say much about the new one until I see it and see it in action, but it’s a good thing in principle. The evaluation should be done according to the results in the classroom, preferably academic, measurable, the relationship with the children, with the parents, real involvement in significant projects, possibly cultural activity”, says Doru Căstăian.
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