Teachers talk about performance pay

A Center for Teaching Quality report, written by a team of teachers, calls for changing how teachers are paid. Instead of rewarding teachers for seniority or taking courses that don’t affect student learning, salaries should be linked to raising student achievement and taking leadership roles, the teachers conclude. The TeacherSolutions team also recommended paying more to teachers with high-demand skills or those who teach effectively in high-need schools. Education Week reports:

. . . teachers could earn annual supplements ranging from 5 percent to 15 percent of their base pay by increasing student learning, demonstrating advanced skills, meeting market needs and, eventually, providing leadership. Leadership activities would include mentoring new and prospective teachers, coaching and evaluating peers, building educational programs for the school and the community, and reaching out to parents.

Team member Betsy Roger, National Teacher of the Year in 2003, argues for performance pay in Teacher Magazine, recalling a conversation with a hard-working and successful teacher who asked why she was earning the same pay as “Ms. Early,” so called because she took early retirement without leaving her job. It was a good question, Rogers concluded.

We make it clear that the first step in building a new incentives-driven compensation system for teachers is to get the base-pay system right. But we cannot stop there. We have to provide more for those teachers who continually go above and beyond to ensure high academic gains. We have to provide rewards for teachers who step out and become leaders in their schools. We need incentives that support teachers who work in teams to help students achieve more, or who reach out to the community beyond the school to increase support for student learning.

“Ms. Early” is still on the payroll at the Alabama school where Rogers is trying to improve instruction.

Discussion of performance pay no longer is taboo for teachers, Eduwonk notes. That’s an important step.

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Comments

  1. It’s important that administrators also be paid based on performance.

    There must inevitably be some subjective component in the teacher pay-for-performance plan (like the “mentoring new and prospective teachers”), and if administrators are paid on student performance, they will be incentivized to keep the evaluations honest, rather than politically-based. They will also be incentivized to do better jobs of hiring and of organization.

    Imagine a factory in which the workers were strongly incentivized based on output and quality, but the plant manager and his staff were paid based only on seniority, college degrees, etc. I don’t think it would be a happy or successful place.

  2. Miller Smith says:

    I control my classroom if I get paid for performance. I sue student’s families that were bad and reduced my pay.

    How about just going private?

  3. Andy Lange says:

    Teachers should be judged on how much their students learn, not on how much the students know – so there wouldn’t be any significant financial incentives to have a particular “type” of student in a given teacher’s class.

  4. ———-Teachers should be judged on how much their students learn, not on how much the students know – so there wouldn’t be any significant financial incentives to have a particular “type” of student in a given teacher’s class.

    Yes, Andy Lange, though in my experience it is often easier to make progress with some students than others.

    And mitigating factors ought to be considered. If a student spends six months of the school year taking care of his sick grandmother in Mexico or three months in the hospital after being shot or eight months in a daze because his brother was killed, his teacher ought not be held accountable for his lack of progress.

    One might suggest that such occurances are rare enough not to be important but in some schools they might not be such anomolies…

  5. wayne martin says:

    > How about just going private

    Teachers can do that tomorrow by opening their own schools. It’s really amazing that more teachers don’t do this–since the can pay themselves as much as they can charge the parents whose kids they teach. Pay-for-performance becomes the basis for the schools profitability.

  6. —–Teachers can do that tomorrow by opening their own schools. It’s really amazing that more teachers don’t do this–since the can pay themselves as much as they can charge the parents whose kids they teach. Pay-for-performance becomes the basis for the schools profitability.

    And if the parents cannot afford to pay anything, Wayne, then what?

    I’m quite sure that’s a rhetorical quesiton….

  7. wayne martin says:

    > And if the parents cannot afford to pay anything,
    > Wayne, then what?

    Like any other product/service–the producers need to cost out the labor and cost-of-goods that meets their customer’s willingness to pay, and their ability-to-pay.

    This is simple Econ.101.

  8. And if the parents cannot afford to pay anything, Wayne, then what?

    On the basis of the quality of education that seems to accompany low incomes how is the current situation any better?

  9. Miller Smith says:

    wayne martin, if the government ran public grocery stores that everyone had to pay for, just where would the poor get the money to shop at your private store?

    Economics 101? Did you miss some classes or something?

  10. wayne martin says:

    > if the government ran public grocery stores that
    > everyone had to pay for, just where would the poor
    > get the money to shop at your private store?

    Actually, this happened in Russia. The answer to your question is simple (and actually true): there was nothing on the shelves to buy.

    > Economics 101? Did you miss some classes or something?

    Nope ..

  11. Allen, yes, that is a reasonable question but if we privatize then the poor will be forced to choose between housing and education.

    Last month I helped a student fill out her FAFSA for college. Her total gross family income (for her parents, her, and a younger brother) was $19,000. I wonder if, under Wayne’s suggestion, this kid would be getting ready to attend UC Berkeley.

    Actually, thus far, half a dozen of our students have gotten into Kerkeley. About ten others will be attending other UCs, including UCLA, three got into USC, one into Stanford, one into MIT and pretty much everyone else into a CSU or historically black college.

    Ours, of course, is not a typical innercity public high school. We are small. Most of the teachers are vets. Students choose our school and so they are far more likely to be academically motivated. But many of our students come to us with marginal abilities and unimpressive test scores. Still, they almost all graduate and go to college.

    In a privatized system, perhaps some of our students would be given scholarships to attend private school. Perhaps banks would offer student loans for K-12 (probably not). The rest, according to “simple Econ. 101” would be left to fend for themselves, to become autodidacts of the streets or be recruited into the netherworld of illegal child labor. According to such libertarian theory, poor people would then have a disincentive to have children and would — presumably — severely limit reproduction….

    No thanks….

    I really don’t understand why people want to punish children for the poverty of their parents.

  12. wayne martin says:

    > I really don’t understand why people want to
    > punish children for the poverty of their parents.

    This misses the entire point. People can either live in poverty, or work their way out of it. The current system does not encourage the latter course of action.

  13. As usual, the argument against teacher incentive pay rests on the fact that some students would not directly benefit from it. It’s always these extreme examples of students in unusually dire situations that are used to stymie all educational reform and debate. Meanwhile, the vast majority of students continue to be educated in a flawed, anachronistic, top-heavy, lumbering, inflexible, and monolithic system. Broad reform that affects a large number of students is the best anyone can possibly hope for. To hold out for that perfect reform or set of reforms that absolutely guarantees to improve the education of every single child is the same as no reform.

  14. wayne martin says:

    > The rest, according to “simple Econ. 101″ would
    > be left to fend for themselves, to become autodidacts
    > of the streets or be recruited into the netherworld
    > of illegal child labor

    Ye gods .. on what planet ..??

    It’s astounding how teachers can’t comprehend simple market economics and discussions thereof. To recap:

    0) why not privative?
    1) Ok .. quit and open your own schools?
    2) How would parents afford to pay
    3) Using conventional pricing mechanisms.

    So .. how does this conversation about teachers opening private schools end up with a vision of the backstreets of Dickensonian, 19th Century London?

    A private school is pretty much free to design its own programs, to locate the school in any location it wants, to use sweat equity to provide facilities to reduce site costs, to utilize any technology it wants (within cost constraints). Class size can be big or small. Teachers (who say they love teaching more than money) can defer payment from parents until they can pay (with or without interest). Such schools can accept payment-in-kind, such as labor, from parents. Teachers will be free to educate all the students they want—at the price that they want to charge. The only constraint here is that if they overprice their product then they might not attract too many students.

    Seems like independent-minded teachers would be hot to support vouchers so that they could actually get the State to help their customers pay the bills.

  15. Miller Smith says:

    Put the money in the hands of parents via needs testing and close the government schools. Teachers-like me-will then have access to the capital to start our own schools. This will liberate the poor from enforced government ingnorance and stupidity.

    Bottom line….The Government of a Free People DOES NOT control the Content of that Free People’s Education. Period.

  16. wayne martin says:

    > The Government of a Free People DOES NOT control
    > the Content of that Free People’s Education

    Then how would the government ever be able to recognize a teacher who is in need of “performance pay”?

  17. —–People can either live in poverty, or work their way out of it.

    Wayne, I’m afraid it is you who has no understanding of market economics — at least not as it has existed on this planet.

    Poor people who “work their way out of it” have always been the exception. They ought to be admired — not used as justification to blame every poor person for his or her condition.

    Charter schools and vouchers are reasonable alternatives to the current mismanagement of public money by corrupt and inefficient school systems.

    Privitization (if, by that, you mean private schools funded by private money) would mark the end of education for many of those who cannot afford it. Your reference to the novels of Charles Dickens is a perceptiveo ne. Good for you.

    Your suggestion that parents and teachers could barter and that teachers could forgo earning a living out of the kindness of their hearts might be a little optimistic. Take TN, a recent graduate from our school: father on death row, mother also incarcerated, living with disabled grandmother living on Social Security. Nothing really to barter (except, perhaps, if TN can go to your school then his father won’t break out of prison and kill you!) And, yes, some kind teacher — preferably one with a trust fund — could educate poor TN at his or her own expense. But there are many other TNs. Would they all be so lucky?

    During the early years of The Great Depression, Hoover called on Americans to use private charity to solve the overwhelming economic catastrophe and keep people from starving or freezing to death. That plan was not a tremendous success, was it?

  18. wayne martin says:

    > Poor people who “work their way out of it” have always
    > been the exception. They ought to be admired — not used as
    > justification to blame every poor person for his or her condition.

    And you know this how?

    > Charter schools and vouchers are reasonable
    > alternatives to the current mismanagement of
    > public money by corrupt and inefficient school systems.

    Well .. the jury on Charters is out for me because the funding is public, and the governance of the Charters varies from Charter to Charter. Most Charters that close for cause close because of financial mismanagement.

    > Privitization (if, by that, you mean private schools funded
    > by private money)

    No . a private school is one that is privately owned.

    > would mark the end of education for many of
    > those who cannot afford it.

    Not certain that these people are getting an education now. The main point of my posting is that vouchers would allow private schools to allow teachers to operate their own schools and make as much money as they want—based on how they designed their programs.

    > Your suggestion that parents and teachers could barter
    > and that teachers could forgo earning a living out of the
    > kindness of their hearts might be a little optimistic.

    Actually, it was intended as sarcasm.

    > Nothing really to barter

    There are always special cases. We should be talking about the inside 95% here.

    > During the early years of The Great Depression, Hoover called on
    > Americans to use private charity to solve the overwhelming
    > economic catastrophe and keep people from starving or
    > freezing to death.

    Yes.

    > That plan was not a tremendous success, was it?

    Hmm .. how many people died of freezing or starvation during the “Great Depression”.

    My father was a “Great Depression” child. His father had died in 1924 and when the bottom dropped out of the Market in 1929 my Grandmother was not able to keep her family together. She sent my father’s sister to live with a family in another city, moved out of her house and into a house owned by a friend of hers. Life was not easy in those days. My Dad and his brother both had to drop out of school. Both found work in a local store. Eventually, after Dad got old enough, he moved to a larger city in another state and eventually joined the Navy. So, as it turned out—my Dad’s family survived the “Depression” by following Hoover’s prescription. I suspect that lots of families did too. People survive differently in smaller towns than they do in big cities.

    No .. not a great thing. However, it happened. My Grandmother wouldn’t have been able to barter anything to keep the kids in school. But then, this was the “Great Depression”. Vouchers would solve this problem.

  19. Miller Smith says:

    wayne, you’re not reading…there will be no performance pay run by the government. The public schools will close-forever! Teachers like me will get paid based on our performance as judged by each individual parent in the mass of parents out there looking for a place to put their children.

    Econ 101

  20. ——The main point of my posting is that vouchers would allow private schools to allow teachers to operate their own schools and make as much money as they want—based on how they designed their programs.

    I think that I would be among the first teachers to do this. Team up with four to eight of my best colleagues, find a building somewhere, etc… Back in the early 1990s, when vouchers were on the ballot in California I talked about it with a science teacher and social studies teacher at my school, but then the proposition lost (did it lose or did it win and get struck down in court? I can’t remember)

    I wonder, though, about the curricular independence of all these private schools funded by voucher money. I’m confident that the curriculum at my private school would be superior to that in the public schools but I cannot say with confidence that all such schools would be. Econ 101 says that parents will reject the inferior schools and they will close, but uneducated parents might not be able to make such determinations. I suppose that some independent private or public rating organization would find a market for its service….

  21. Miller Smith says:

    Larry, those uneducated parents know about the bad schools in my district RIGHT NOW! They know how bad Bladensburg High is vs. Bowie High (PG County, MD). They cheat right now to get their kids an address for Bowie and have their kids ride the metro buses to get to us.

    Uneducated parents will find out real soon if their new school sucks or not. They will talk with each other. They will know if their kids are getting smarter and kowing more or remaining idiots. Kind of hard to misss even if you are uneducated. There WILL BE independent ratings and reviews in the newpapers, web, and reports on TV (TV for the uneducated) as to the best and worst schools.

    They will know then because they know now…

  22. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Make them read and cipher at a 6th grade level, then everything else make voluntary.

  23. > Poor people who “work their way out of it” have always
    > been the exception. They ought to be admired — not used as
    > justification to blame every poor person for his or her condition.

    Most people do start out poor – they’re more or less penniless when they leave school, and few people other than a few hundred top athletes and law school graduates start out in high-paying jobs. The rest have to start out in a lousy job and work their way up.

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