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Do you support performance pay for teachers?

A study released Tuesday found that offering teachers annual bonuses of up to $15,000 had no effect on student test scores - a result likely to inflame debate about performance pay programs sprouting in D.C. schools and many others nationwide. Read the full story.

By Abha Bhattarai  |  September 21, 2010; 7:02 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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there is no doubt, let me repeat- no doubt- that performance pay will result in test mill classrooms.

a teacher, wanting/expecting higher pay will have an incentive to teach the test, skim over the needed scaffolding in order to have the students regurgitate on test day. all evidence shows that this quick approach to recall results in 1. a loss of quality student-teacher question and discussion time 2. anxious students as the teacher's plan (not the curriculum) will be unavoidably filled with pressure 3. will result in less written evaluation, due to their subjectivity (who will grade my kid's writing, if i get pay for it?) and more multiple guesswork.

educators are not educators because of pay. most educators settle for the pay. making them jump through hoops to earn more is somewhat degrading to the idea of passion in education.

turning teacher-student interactions into one where a teacher's bottom line is affected is not in my opinion, setting out on the right foot.

Posted by: ae-inc | September 21, 2010 8:23 PM

The problem with merit pay raises and promotions is the person or people who are allowed to rank the merits!

My own University experience was that One member of our "Tenure" and merit judgment group was very clever in twisting the judgments according to his PERSONAL like or dislike of a professor.

His tendency was to try to downgrade any prof who he could consider to be a threat to his own standing.

So it goes . . .
I have yet to see ANY merit system that can be applied in an unbiased manner.

Posted by: lufrank1 | September 21, 2010 9:39 PM

How about we institute performance pay for members of Congress. Noo performance, no pay.

Posted by: hsman | September 21, 2010 10:29 PM

One problem is that it is difficult to measure performance objectively. So rewards for performance have a high potential to wind up as rewards for playing politics with the reward giver. A second problem is that people don't typically hold back a big part of their potential waiting for some monetary incentive. Those who are worth anything do a good job because they want to. Those that are not worth much usually are not capable of doing a good job anyway. The best approach to improving teaching is exploiting technology to improve the tools used for education. Better tools mean less dependence on the teachers skills. Plus the tools could help the teachers polish their skills too. The way to get better teaching is by making it easier for teachers to do a good job not by using carrots and sticks to try to squeeze more out of them than they really have to give.

Posted by: dnjake | September 21, 2010 11:05 PM

There is much skepticism to performance base pay, albeit many of which have merit, that we sometimes forget that no system we implement is going to be perfect. Simply because there will always be some human factor the interjects some level of subjectivity that can hinder true success. However we must accept the fact that the current system ultimately a complete failure. If we understand the challenges of a particular system, then we must provide measures to limit this influences:
.e.g. separate the Re-warder from Tester, separate the Tester (Teacher ) from the test.

We should raise the standards of our tests.
We should raise the standards by which we 'certify' and qualify our 'teachers': Some tachers may have good intentions but just lack the skills. (Help them to become better teachers).
Se must examine the cause , we already know the effects of bad teaching:
Why did bad teachers end up in the class room if they can't teach: How did they qualify, got certified to and yet do such a bad job. What motivated them to be become teachers and cause them to be 'bad' teachers in the first place.


Most importantly the School Teacher is only one influences in a child's education... So parents do forget to do your part. Do you know your child's syllabus

Posted by: IslandFever | September 21, 2010 11:38 PM

DNJAKE: I was right with you until the technology suggestion. What technology are you proposing? Without specifics you leave me with the impression that robots could be better teachers. What tools can help inspire kids like a good teacher?

Most educators educate because they enjoy the personal satisfaction of directly making a positive impact on future generations. If they were in it for the money, they would have majored in business or engineering.

One thing that seems to always be missing from the pay and performance debate is the administration. Whoever holds them accountable? How many of them do we really need? How many times do they get in the way of teacher's effectiveness?

And lastly, what about the parents who today expect teachers to teach and baby sit? Don't they have some accountability too instead of threatening to sue when junior doesn't get the grade?

Posted by: acwlp | September 21, 2010 11:51 PM

If parents could have vouchers to send their children to the school of their choice, this would be a moot point. Only teacher's unions in public schools prevent merit pay from happening tomorrow. With choice, rightly or wrongly, parents could try merit pay and see if it worked or not. No guessing or speculating or ideological battles or wishful thinking necessary. If it did not or any thing else did not work in the classroom, something else would be tried quickly. The status quo is corrupt and ineffective moreso than anything that could replace it. Teachers will try any fad in the classroom and let the students suffer for the rest of their lives if it doesn't work, e.g. whole word reading, but they won't try something for three years that could be changed back.

Posted by: jjaazzzz | September 22, 2010 1:47 PM


I agree only if you can show me a
workable metric

Posted by: frank62 | September 22, 2010 2:27 PM

I support pay-for-performance in principle, but I've yet to see a system that wasn't wholly subjective, rife with favoritism, and didn't cost the institution in significant time wasted on administering the system. Many systems are zero-sum, so colleagues become competitors and it becomes poisonous to team building. The amount of time an employee dedicates to writing objectives and then summarizing achievements, followed by supervisor comments and administration review has a significant cost borne by the institution.

Pay-for-performance is a good idea, but most attempts are far worse and costlier than the current system in place.

Posted by: AxelDC | September 22, 2010 3:09 PM

We need to pay teachers a good salarh -- after all, they have one of the most important jobs in our society. Then, teachers need to get rid of unions as their professional organizations and start to act as the professionals they are. Unions are for blue-collar workers, who need them to maintain a balance between labor and management. Teachers are professionals who need a professional organization to both protect themselves and to protect their students.

Posted by: marmac5 | September 27, 2010 4:55 AM

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