Teachers vs. performance pay

Teachers strongly oppose linking pay to performance, concludes a survey of teachers in Washington state. Teachers were asked about higher pay based on working in a difficult school (“combat pay”), teaching in a high-demand subject area, student performance and National Board certification. From Teacher Quality Bulletin:

Combat pay ranks most favorably with teachers with support at 77 percent. In contrast, there is scant, almost nonexistent support for any pay plan that tries to assess a teacher’s performance: 14 percent of the teachers support performance pay “somewhat” with only 3 percent in “strong favor.”

. . . Support for merit pay is higher among teachers who have positive impressions of their principal and negative impressions of their colleagues.

Not surprisingly, math and science teachers strongly support subject area bonuses; teachers certified by the National Board support bonuses for certification.

Smaller class sizes were less important than higher pay.

A huge majority (82 percent) of the teachers said they’d rather get a $5,000 pay raise than teach two fewer students. Most would still take that raise (69 percent) over getting another prep period every week (69 percent). It could be that teachers would rather have the money, or it could also reflect the rampant distrust of teachers for districts following through on any promised improvements. When in doubt, take the cash; it’s a safer bet.

There’s more here on the “slender” evidence supporting the efficacy of performance pay.

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Comments

  1. I suspect that some of the lack of support comes from the current metrics.

    Design and promote a system where a teacher is graded on his/her ability to move a student a grade level (or more) ahead and I think you might find some better support.

    Then again, the herd mentality is strong…

  2. While I understand the reluctance to tie merit STRICTLY to test scores, I don’t think that teachers are going to be able to hold out much longer on the issue of linking pay and performance. When teachers demand to be treated like professionals (and I am not arguing they aren’t) then they cannot argue that they shouldn’t be paid and evaluated like professionals rather than clock punchers.

    Finally, if the teachers want to have some control over the final product of merit pay (and like it or not teachers, it is coming), then your best strategic bet is to get out in front of the issue and make a proposal.

  3. Long ago I formulated a plan for performance pay that I would advocate. Call it the five part secret ballot. Available money is allocated by some formula, the essential feature of which is that there is a five part division. 20% of the money is allocated by the superintendent, going to teachers, not administrators. But only the superintendent, and perhaps some accounting firm, knows the names and amounts. The next 20% is allocated by each principal to his or her teachers, again by secret ballot so only the principal (and some accounting firm) knows names and details. The next 20% is allocated by teachers themselves. Each teacher gets to vote for two, maybe three or four, names. You can vote for yourself if you think you deserve it. Then parents of every student are given a secret ballot to vote for, or against, the teachers they know. This is another 20% of the total voting. And the last 20% is distributed by student votes. Each student gets to vote for his or her favorite teacher, or against as the case may be. At the end of the year, or month, or quarter, or whatever, each teacher gets a check,as determined by the accounting firm hired to sort it all out and apply the formula. Teachers grumble, of course, when they get their check, as do parents, adminstrators, students, and half the people who read about in the newspaper.
    There is much to argue against this plan, but that’s true of every plan. This plan has the advantage of democracy, in some sense at least, and all the disadvantages and messiness of democracy also.

  4. That’s an incredibly dreadful plan. All the garbage of today’s system but worse.

    As for merit pay, there’s nothing wrong with it if it tracks actual improvement, but any such plan will end up with suburban teachers getting paid far more money than inner city teachers–and, in all likelihood, white teachers getting paid more than black or Hispanic teachers. I don’t think it will fly.

  5. Miller Smith says:

    Here is a point that I made on another blog: If my pay is linked directly to the performance of the children in my class AND a child and parent refuse to follow my orders AND that child is the cause of my failure to get the perfomance pay-do I hav a cause of action against that parent?

    ” I don’t like you and I told my kid to fail the test on purpose.” Sue or not sue?

    “I want home time to be family time, so we dont have time for your homework.” Sue or not sue?

    I will make this very clear: I will not be held responsible for that I do not control. If you hold me responsible, I WILL take control-through the courts if need be.

  6. How do the best private schools deal with teacher selection, retention, and pay? Do they use permformance pay to attract teachers?

  7. You can’t really blame teachers for opposing merit pay when they work in schools whose test scores don’t move despite greatly increased budgets (and presumably some increased efforts associated with those budgets). Either the evaluation process is no good or their schools are broken, but either way, they’ll be set up to be penalized.

  8. My (limited) experience with private schools (data point of one): the pay was not as good as the local public, there was no “merit pay,” but the students were much easier to teach and the parents were much easier to deal with – because it was a selective school – parents wanted their kids to learn and do well, and most of the kids wanted to learn and get good grades. (Those that didn’t were washed out pretty fast.) By and large the students came from families who cared about education and had a big investment in their students succeeding.

    Discipline was not a problem because most of us were afraid of being thrown out of school – which could actually happen; people got expelled (and permanently – no “alternative school” for six weeks, no second chances) for things like cheating.

    I don’t think they had any trouble attracting good teachers, despite the lack of merit pay.

    I’m uncomfortable with the concept of merit pay for the reasons Miller Smith alluded to. It would be kind of like tying faculty bonuses at a college solely to student evaluations – where it is true there are some excellent teachers who get uniformly excellent evaluations, there are also HORRIBLE teachers who get good evaluations (at least from some) because they’re entertaining or because they have low expectations. And I’ve seen good teachers (or at least those I’d consider to be good) get not-stellar evaluations because they taught a “service” class, or they had high standards, or were a little socially awkward, or something. It’s too much of a popularity contest.

    If there were some kind of nationally-normed, subject area test that students could take as a final exam (and have it count for their final exam grade – or else some wouldn’t put in the effort), and tie bonuses to scores on those, maybe. But letting too many people have a subjective “say” as to who is an “excellent” teacher and who is not sets up too many cases of potential “back-scratching” (“you give me good evaluations and I’ll give you good ones”) or chances for someone to carry out a personal attack on someone they don’t like for an unrelated-to-work reason.

  9. Looking at the link, “slender” describes the amount of research into merit pay, not the merits (ha!) of the system.

  10. Hunter McDaniel says:

    Several years ago I served on the board of a charter school where we had wide latitude to implement pay for performance. All-in-all, it was the most important task we had. The mindset we used was most akin to that of a team owner in a sport with salary caps. We worried about who our star teachers were, who were most likely to become free-agents, and what impact a big raise for one teacher might have on our pool for the rest of the program.

    In the end, I think any formula based system to pay for performance is too simplistic and doomed to failure.

  11. As long as the current organization of school districts and unions continue there will be no effective change in pay. The largest pay-related problem, imo, is not the lack of performance pay but instead the seniority-based pay. Paying simply by time spent unfairly penalizes new teachers and rewards older teachers who become untouchable due to their tenure and seniority.
    While I have had a few great teachers who were close to retirement, I’ve observed many near-retirement teachers who have either lost their edge or just don’t care. They stick around just for the 70K+ salary they receive.
    Evening out the pay would do two things – older teachers would be more likely to retire or change careers, therefore opening more slots for new teachers. Also, the 30K initial pay wouldn’t scare away potential teachers anymore, luring more highly-qualified individuals to teach (if only for a few years until they move on).
    One other possible side effect might be to reduce administrative costs. Decreasing the maximum teacher pay might pull down the pay scale for administrators, freeing up more of the budget.
    Of course, you’ll never see this happen because existing teachers and administrators don’t want to see their potential pay reduced.

  12. Tennessee Value-Added Assessment seems like an excellent pay for performance model, and I would be eager to see it implemented.

    SuperSub, unless you’re going to take on teacher certification too, you don’t really want to create new openings, do you?

    If we let anyone who had a college degree and can pass a criminal background search teach, then maybe creating incentives for experienced folks to leave would make sense. But upping demand for new teachers with no way of expanding supply doesn’t seem like a very good idea to me.

    I think that we need to think long and hard about what outcomes we want from public schools, and then reward teachers for delivering on those outcomes, as much as they are within their control (and TVAA seems to do a good job with that). Personally, as a taxpayer and teacher, I’m not that interested in how satisfied people think they are with their public school experience. I’m interested in whether students can demonstrate independent academic mastery, whether they are ready for employment or college (or the next grade for early grades), and whether they show good citizenship.

    I feel that I could contribute to those goals as a teacher if students, parents and administrators would cooperate, but presently most aspects of public schools are stacked against it.

  13. Andy Freeman says:

    > I will make this very clear: I will not be held responsible for that I do not control.

    I note that everyone outside the public school system is “held responsible” for things that they do not control. They lose their jobs when someone else screws up. Their investments tank even though they did nothing wrong.

    Why is it that public school folk think that they should be treated differently?

  14. Andy Freeman says:

    > If you hold me responsible, I WILL take control-through the courts if need be.

    More likely, we’ll find someone who doesn’t have that sense of entitlement.

  15. Richard Cook says:

    Andy-

    What the hell does that mean? I understand that the person is covering their rear end because they are being held accountable for something they have no control over. Too ofter the anger is directed at the teachers and the mush at the parents instead of the other way around. The teacher merit pay issue is ultimately B.S. Either we hold parents accountable for their involvement in raising their children or not. We are just trying to foist it off on the teachers via merit pay, increased school days, etc. No damn silver bullets here.

  16. Richard Cook says:

    Ultimately there is no mechanism for holding parents accountable so we just flail in the quicksand and sink deeper.

  17. Richard Cook says:

    And after this writing its a drink of Cruzan’s Black Strap Navy Rum.

  18. Houston experimented with a merit pay plan and it was a disaster. There were actually teachers who had been fired for incompetence who received bonuses, and absolutley no rhyme or reason as to how they were given.

    As a principal I could make it very easy for an outspoken teacher not to get a bonus, just give them the absolutle worst kids I can find, and give them absolutely no support. Voila, no bonus.

  19. timfromtexas says:

    I hope ya’ll don’t mind, if I talk in the language I know best, but here’s the way it is. We have no system of education. We have no plan. We have no curriculum. We have bad texts. we have teachers administrators, parents , town drunks living in the past. And that’s just for starters. We have a system that doesn’t compete, and merit pay won’t buy it.

  20. > As a principal I could make it very easy for an outspoken teacher not to get a bonus, just give them the absolutle worst kids I can find, and give them absolutely no support. Voila, no bonus.

    Har! So the criticism of merit pay is that lousy principals would undercut the system. Which would differ in what way from the current system?

    What’s especially humorous in that criticism is that the solution isn’t to have *no* merit pay but to extend the concept to principals. Now your venal principal has to balance the desire to play sandbox Napoleon against a reduction in their own merit pay. Provided of course that the “outspoken” teacher’s any good.

    If that teacher’s no good then there’s no problem. Who the hell needs ’em?

    If the teacher is good then this principal has to decide whether squeezing them out’s worth a) risking a reduction in their own merit pay and b) risking a loss of employment, no merit bonus being a handy metric for determining whether the *principal* ought to hang onto their job.

  21. Andy-
    Unfortunately, there are a lot of differences between the education environment and the business world. The penalties that I can hold over my subordinates (students) are much less dire than a boss can hold over a standard employee. My students are not motivated by a paycheck that they must use to buy life’s necessities. The psychological and emotional development of my subordinates is much less than a standard business employee.
    The closest business environment to education is probably France, where individuals under a certain age (26 I think) cannot be fired for all practical purposes (national law). Of course, there’s horrible unemployment in that age range for a reason…

  22. Miller Smith says:

    Andy Freeman, what kind of life do you live? You are held accountable for what others do? Please, do tell.

    If a business owner screws up and the business goes down in flames, the employees lose their jobs…but they are not accountable for that loss. You seem to not knkow what accountability is.

    If you hold me accountable for what you do, then I will assert my control over you. If you resist and still hold me accountable for what you do, you will get hauled into court. The courts traditionally find that I will get control OR the accountability you place on me is lifted. One or the other.

    I am not accountable for the snark you wrote…you are. If you insist that I am responsible for what you wrote then I order you: Never post here again. One or the other Andy. One or the other.

  23. Andy Freeman says:

    > The penalties that I can hold over my subordinates (students) are much less dire than a boss can hold over a standard employee.

    Students are not your subordinates.

  24. Andy Freeman says:

    Miller seems confused. No one is suggesting that teachers be liable for poor student performance, just that some of their pay depend on the difference that they make in student achievement.

    > If a business owner screws up and the business goes down in flames, the employees lose their jobs…but they are not accountable for that loss.

    They’re accountable in exactly the sense that Miller objects to – they lose their jobs.

    It’s not just owner screwups – co-worker and supplier screwups can cost people their jobs, can cost them bonus pay, etc. Heck, so can the weather, govt, random decisions by customers, etc.

    If Miller doesn’t want his pay to depend on things that he doesn’t control, he’s free to find a job that satisfies him. Good luck though – it won’t be in the public schools.

  25. Allen,

    That’s an interesting idea, but I think it would lead to the same situations you have in urban, high crime/poverty areas; the really good principals wouldn’t go there for any salary (or at least what the local districts could pay).

  26. Miller Smith says:

    Accountable-Liable to being called to give a reason for a particular action or event.

    At no time is an employee held to be accountable for the lose of their job due tothe actions of a bad manager. The manager is.

    Andy, you literally have no idea of the meaning of accountable. The employees are harmed, they are not accountable.

    Andy, do you want your pay depended on things you do not control? You wish no control yet you want to be held accountable?

    You troll.

  27. Andy-
    Last time I checked, students are subordinates to a teacher. I direct them to complete a set task and I determine what behavior is acceptable or not in my classroom. Seems to me that is exactly a superior-subordinate relationship.

    “They lose their jobs when someone else screws up. Their investments tank even though they did nothing wrong.”

    If the person who screws up is a subordinate, then you are responsible under the theory that you have the authority to hire/fire personnel or to at least recommend such (I can’t get rid of my students because they don’t do their homework).
    As for the investments… they did do something wrong. They invested in the wrong company or portfolio. That person has a lot more choice than I do as a teacher… I can’t select my students.

  28. I don’t claim to have a solution for unmotivated students, but I don’t really buy the argument that nobody else has their pay determined by things that they can’t control. Folks who work retail are expected to sell a certain amount of merchandise, and the fact that a competitor opened down the street isn’t always taken into account by corporate. They are responsible for selling, no matter how many customers come through the door. My husband, a computer engineer, is often frustrated when a collaborator doesn’t complete his work on time, but that doesn’t mean that the project deadline is extended, so everybody has to work harder. They are accountable for meeting the deadline, even though they can’t control whether collaborators or outside companies are prompt or accurate. Sports coaches are sometimes fired if a player does something illegal, even if it is in the off-season and off-campus.

    These aren’t exact parallels, but they are examples of situations where the fate of an employee is determined by factors that they can arguable influence but not completely control. In teaching it is clear that, given comparable students, some teachers do a much better job of teaching them. For some it may be natural ability, for others it may be through diligent reading and planning. Either way, rewarding good teachers might be a way to induce good teachers to continue teaching.

  29. I may be speaking in too sweeping a way here, but I don’t think most teachers think that other people aren’t expected to succeed in spite of variables they can’t control. I don’t think most of us are that divorced from reality.

    The problem in discussion of merit pay for teachers is that at some schools, the majority of factors are stacked against teacher success and at others the majority are set up to ensure teacher success. And even more unfortunately, the factors have much more to do with the demographics of the school*, rather than anything that the schools or teachers can contribute.

    (Of course, there are exceptions, like the under-performing high schools in California that Joanne mentioned earlier this week.)

    So if we’re designing a system of merit pay, you don’t want to invent a system that further punishes teachers who are willing to try teaching at more difficult schools.

    * I’m not trying to say that certain types of kids can’t learn; just that it’s fundamentally ridiculous to assume that all kids are equally as easy or difficult to teach or that the kids are equally distributed about schools or teachers.

  30. Miller Smith says:

    lu-lu, that software guy who is late-I get to ruin his reputation and/or get his butt out of there! Try that with a kid.

    Kids are not adults with whom we can fight with as adults. I can fight with the person telling me to sell and sorry product and I can move on and let them try and do that. We’re adults that way. Try that very kind of attitude with children.

    How about a real test? Make it so that there is no base pay for teachers. Payment is per child meeting a set goal. Make sure the kids and parents know this AND make sure the kids and parents know that there will be NOTHING that will ever happen to them if they do not perform. Willing to go for that?

  31. > the really good principals wouldn’t go there for any salary (or at least what the local districts could pay).

    How do you know?

    Up until recently there wasn’t any way to *tell* good principals from bad just as there wasn’t any way to tell good teachers from bad. But once you start collecting stats you have a way to filter out the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed bargains from the people who know how to get things done.

    It also allows you to start setting salaries according to the value of the skill-set.

    Who’s worth more, the principal who’s capable of keeping a good school on an even keel as long as there aren’t any unforeseen problems or the take-no-prisoners turn-around artist? Obviously, they aren’t interchangeable and the latter’s worth more then the former.

    Once you start measuring results you can start paying accordingly. The empty suit has an easier, less valuable job then the firebrand and gets paid accordingly.

    Don’t like it? Hit the road, we know what you’re worth and there’s a file cabinet full of resumes from folks who can drive the organization as long as the road’s straight and level.

    You don’t get the big bucks for doing the job when it’s easy.

    Oh by the way, a principal whose salary is largely dependent on the performance of their school would be *strongly* motivated to dump lousy teachers, quickly see to the problems of the good teachers and make damned good and sure no one interfered with those teachers doing their job.

    Miller Smith wrote:

    > At no time is an employee held to be accountable for the lose of their job due tothe actions of a bad manager.

    No, but they sure as hell are held accountable for doing their own jobs and if they can’t well, maybe someone a tad smarter might get it done despite the problems or excuses. Let’s just see, shall we?

    Losing your job because of a bad manager is just bad luck. Sorry, it happens.

    > Andy, do you want your pay depended on things you do not control?

    Let me clue you in: it happens all the time to all sorts of people.

    Your competitor comes out with a better product and now you can’t sell yours for scrap value. There’s a thunderstorm just before the wheat ripens. That nifty tariff ends. A snowstorm shuts down the airport and now you can’t make that critical meeting.

    Don’t look for sympathy for being subject to the vagaries of chance and weather. Most of us live with late shipments, crappy quality control, dumb-ass clerical people, downpours, flat tires, the flu and Murphy’s Law. We live with it maybe you ought to as well.

  32. Andy Freeman says:

    > Liable to being called to give a reason for a particular action or event.

    I meant liable as in the sort of civil liability that results in being forced to pay damages. Like I said, no one has suggested that teachers be liable (in that sense) for underperforming students. (However, one might argue that some are taking money under false pretenses which can be a crime in certain circumstances.)

    > At no time is an employee held to be accountable for the lose of their job due tothe actions of a bad manager.

    As I said, everyone else can be “harmed” by the actions/inactions of others. Yet, Miller thinks that teachers should be protected from such harm.

    > Andy, do you want your pay depended on things you do not control?

    It doesn’t much matter what I want, the fact is that almost everyone’s pay depends on things that they don’t control. (Disagree? Feel free to provide 3 examples.) Why should teachers be any different?

    > You wish no control yet you want to be held accountable?

    And to think that Miller objected when I used “accountable” that way.

    >You troll.

    Probably Miller’s best argument. I’m mean too. And correct.

  33. lu-lu-
    As a second job I work at a national chain of electronics stores. In fact, our sales goals are determined by factors like competition, previous sales, and what is on sale that week. Every day corporate puts out store and department sales goals determined by some algorithm that accounts for these factors and we are tasked to meet that goal.

    As for other business relationships (collaborator, client, etc) it is possible to not work with the individual again (if it was voluntary) or to otherwise penalize the person (affect their performance review by complaining to superiors).

    As it stands, students are often absolved of any responsibility for their part in the student-teacher relationship. Teachers only truly have control over the student’s grades, and schools promote and graduate students despite their poor performance. The school I currently work at has stopped afterschool detentions, so the main penalty for misbehavior has been robbed from me. Short of a student committing a crime in my classroom, they effectively are penalized for nothing.

  34. Allen,

    As always we disagree on what makes “good”. I don’t think one test score measures much of anything, except a snapshot of what the child is doing on that one particular day. I’ve also been very vocal about my belief the testing scheme is designed to cause schools to be labeled failures, so I’m sure you won’t be surprised by my opposition to any plan that uses test scores.

    However, it would be very easy to find other factors to determine if a principal is doing a good job.

    Staff turnover – if TONS of teachers want to leave the school its not a good sign.

    Physical shape of the building – a GOOD principal wouldn’t put up with poor maintenance and dilapidated facilities

    Student discipline – how are the students behaving as a whole? Are they well mannered or running around like animals? Someone in between?

  35. > As always we disagree on what makes “good”.

    Yeah, I don’t give a damn about anything but education. Neither my livelihood nor my ego are invested in the current system so whatever gets the job done is fine by me. Whether via the current system or “Matrix” style downloading, all I’m interested in is results. “Good” consists of a good education, and nothing else, to me.

    You, by contrast, view the education system through the lens of your personal concerns.

    That’s why funding is always inadequate, your compensation is always inadequate, excuses for lousy performance are always compelling, measuring outcomes is either conceptually flawed or poorly implemented and any changes to the education system are judged according to their impact on you as much as – more then – their impact on educational goals.

    You’ll see the above as criticism even insult but it’s neither. Self-interest is as much a part of human nature as bilateral symmetry and being upset about one makes no more sense then being upset about the other. It’s just another human characteristic and while bilateral symmetry doesn’t show up to varying degrees, self-interest does and it’s the varying degree but inevitability of self-interest that underlies the problems of public education.

    You’re not on the hook, as part of your described job responsibilities, to make measurable improvements in the state of education of the children who wander into your classroom. That would be a bad enough situation if it applied to individual teachers but it also applies to your principal and however many layers of administration lie between you and the school board which is also *not* directly responsible for measurable educational progress.

    It’s not in your – “your” meaning anyone employed by the education system – self-interest, other then to satisfy your pride, to concern yourself with educating kids.

    > However, it would be very easy to find other factors to determine if a principal is doing a good job.

    It’s always easy to blow smoke but there’s only one reason for the education system. Keep that in mind and it becomes easy. You just measure whether education is happening and that’s been doable well enough to serve for a bunch of decades.

    > Staff turnover – if TONS of teachers want to leave the school its not a good sign.

    Don’t be silly. It’s only a bad sign if the school’s doing a fine job of educating kids.

    If the school’s rotten I expect to see a string of departures since schools can be end-points for the “dance of the lemons”. With the principal’s salary dependent on the school doing a good job I expect well-performing schools to be treated like fine china with the attendent respectful handling of all those responsible for making it a good school.

    In a rotten school I expect the administrative guillotine to work overtime. If a principal’s capable of extracting wonderful performance from a bunch of sad-sacks, cool. But chucking the bums out works for me just as well.

    So there’s your “bad sign” signaling good things.

    > Physical shape of the building – a GOOD principal wouldn’t put up with poor maintenance and dilapidated facilities.

    You sure? I’ve read of principals who managed to turn lousy schools around without all that much in the way of physical plant improvements. Besides, that’s one of those precursors without which no one can expect anything substantive from the school. Bullshit. A lousy principal’s a lousy principal whether the plumbing is gold-plated or non-existent.

  36. Supersub – I agree that without the ability to fail students and force them to repeat a grade then all of this testing and performance-based pay is kind of irrelevant. I have several friends teaching middle school and I know that they complain about kids who can’t read and write at grade level, but they do what they can and pass them along because they can’t fail them. The fact that they even get these students says that this isn’t the first time they’ve gotten by without learning anything. When they finally get to me (at the community college) I fail them, since we don’t want students who can’t succeed transferring to the university, and nobody questions the F. I don’t really understand why principals don’t have the same belief as our dean, which is that students who leave our program reflect our teaching, so if they have decent grades they need to meet certain standards, and if they don’t then they fail.

    As to the business relationships, let’s just say that when components or designs can be supplied by 1 or 2 companies and you’re working against a contract deadline, sometimes your options are limited, particularly when you know that you’ll have to work with the offending company/group again.

  37. Allen,

    You can curse all you want but it won’t change the fact that only ONE of us has experience in educating children. You choose to sling insults at me for expressing my views, I choose to think of your views as ignorant and typical of the “reform” crowd; you THINK you know better than the people who do it every day.

    As I’ve said before, you’re convinced you have all the answers so why not go out and start your own schools.? Your friends in the corporate world have bought enough politicians to make it easy for anyone with a handkerin’ to get their own school.

    Keep us informed on how it goes.

  38. Mike,

    Nice spirited defense.

    BTW, I think you meant to say “…only ONE of us has experience in miseducating children.”, didn’t you?

  39. Nope.

  40. > You can curse all you want but it won’t change the fact that only ONE of us has experience in educating children.

    It’s this sort of crude misrepresentation I find personally offensive. It’s as if you can’t be bothered to come up with a more creative misrepresentation and so resort to a juvenile response. It’s not as if the proof of your dishonesty is all that difficult to uncover. Anyone wondering about my cursing has just to scroll up to discover the truth.

    It’s also only one of us who can claim some degree of objectivity on the subject since it’s only one of us who doesn’t depend on the daily presence of those kids to make the mortgage payment.

    > I choose to think of your views as ignorant and typical of the “reform” crowd

    A necessary accommodation since, so far, there’s been no substantive reply that’s served.

    > As I’ve said before, you’re convinced you have all the answers so why not go out and start your own schools.?

    I could ask the same of you since you’re full of complaints about the current system and you’re someone who “does it every day”. Since you’re not a running dog lackey of the capitalist oppressors a school you’d start wouldn’t be lining the pockets of all those fat-cats you’re obsessed with.

    > Your friends in the corporate world have bought enough politicians to make it easy for anyone with a handkerin’ to get their own school.

    I’ve got friends in the corporate world? Cripes, how come I’m the last one to find out about this stuff? How long have you known? And you didn’t think to tell me before now?

  41. To determine merit pay, the only fair way is to test the student going in and to test the student going out. That’s the only way to determine whether the student learned the material. If they knew it coming in, then having them know it at the end shouldn’t merit merit pay. Of course math and science teachers support merit pay more than other teachers: they can prove their worth with tests. English teachers? Not as easily, at least not with all aspects of language, spelling, grammar, usage and such. Art teachers? Music? PhysEd? Not so easy at all grade levels.

    And even a fair test must deal with the fact that some students. who know what the test means for the teachers, won’t try hard. Human error really messes with this, doesn’t it?

    I say test the teachers: if they know their material very well, give them a bonus. If they don’t, then they should be washed out of their profession somehow or other. And no, a degree doesn’t equal competence.

  42. Andy Freeman says:

    > You can curse all you want but it won’t change the fact that only ONE of us has experience in educating children.

    Except that that’s not true.

    It’s nice to see MiT again. At one time, he said that he believed in pay for public teacher performance, but it turned out that there wasn’t a test for performance that he found acceptable.

    I wonder if any of that has changed.

    I’ll add something. MiT is more than willing to trot out tests that show that some private schools aren’t doing significantly better than some public schools. In other words, tests that support his position are acceptable while tests that implement pay-for-performance are not.

    I’ll close by noting that if we can’t measure performance, there’s no point in paying for it. We can replace MiT with someone cheaper who, by the evaluation measures that MiT accepts (namely none), is just as good.

  43. Allen,

    You have lots of friends in the corporate world, just check some of the big name corporations and conservative think-tanks and you can probably find lots of willing people to fund your little pet project. Be sure to tell them you can turn a profit. Trust me, they won’t give a damn whether kids learn or not since they know they won’t be held accountable.

    As for my own school, too easy. I could run a great school if I got to hand pick my students, demand the parents volunteer at the school and kick out the kids who might drag our test scores down. But alas, at least here in Texas, all children have the constitutional right to a free public education. Someone has to see to it they get a good one.

    Andy,

    You can try to denigrate my teaching abilities all you want, but unfortunately it doesn’t increase the strength of your arguements.

    What would you consider a valid measurement of my abilities? Test scores? My science students have had the highest test scores on the Texas Science tests in the county I teach in for the last 2 years, or the amount of time it took for kids who had labs under me for 3 years to reach the grade level the science test is given.

    Are my students interested in science and look forward to coming to the Science lab? Absolutely. My students LOVE science, and they and their parents tell me all the time.

    More importantly, are my kids learning Science? Absolutely. I have 3rd graders who can explain how the Bernoulli effect allows us to breathe and allows airplanes to fly. I also have 3rd graders who can tell you HOW a telescope allows you to see more distant objects.

    So there’s 3 measures of my abilities. I don’t give a crap about the state test scores, my kids learn and they love science. That is all the validation I need.

    BTW, I’ve never said I was in favor of any pay for performance plans and as far as the tests go, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Let the corporate run schools take the same tests the public schools have to take. I seem to remember that in the largest and longest running charter school experiment, the state of Ohio, charters are doing a worse job than the public schools.

    Here’s the link to the data from the Ohio Dept. of Education:

    http://www.ode.state.oh.us/GD/DocumentManagement/DocumentDownload.aspx?DocumentID=22750

    Or here’s more from a pro charter group:

    http://www.ppionline.org/documents/Ohioreport_0201.pdf

    Page 21

    Percentage of schools on
    academic watch or in
    academic emergency status 58%

    Note, that 58% figure is for charter schools.

  44. Oh, forgot to mention, from the same site, same chart, percentage of public schools in academic watch or emergency, 10%

  45. I absolutely LOVE this quote, also from page 21:

    Student achievement, measured by standardized
    tests, is important. But it is not the only criterion by
    which schools should be judged.

    The “reformers” want the public schools judge by a single test, but when their schools are labeled failing they want to suddenly find other factors to assess schools.

  46. > You have lots of friends in the corporate world,

    I do? I’ll ask you what I asked my mother when she warned me about bad girls: names! I need names!

    > Be sure to tell them you can turn a profit.

    Public education still tragically underfunded? I’m sure turning a profit’ll look pretty good after a couple of decades of “more” for no visible return other then more and more transparently self-serving excuses.

    > Trust me, they won’t give a damn whether kids learn or not since they know they won’t be held accountable.

    Coming from someone who disdains any accountability measures but when there’s no escaping the inevitability of accounting insists that the measurees ought to be the measurers, I don’t think we could do worse then the status quo system you’re so enamored of.

    > I could run a great school if I got to hand pick my students, demand the parents volunteer at the school…

    Got it. If it was easy, you could do it but anything short of an ideal situation and the public has to be satisfied with an insincere grin and a shrug of the shoulders.

    > But alas, at least here in Texas, all children have the constitutional right to a free public education.

    Not entirely accurate. Children are required to attend school. That’s not an education. That’s a location.

    > Someone has to see to it they get a good one.

    Too easy.

    > My students LOVE science, and they and their parents tell me all the time.

    Well bully for you. Even giving you the benefit of the doubt, are you implying that your splendid abilities are the norm?

    > I have 3rd graders who can explain how the Bernoulli effect allows us to breathe and allows airplanes to fly.

    The Bernoulli effect allows us to breathe? Someone ought to let Bernoulli know. Oh, and if you’re going to tell them about the Bernoulli explanation you ought throw in, by what of complete, the Newtonian explanation. You know, action, reaction?

    > I also have 3rd graders who can tell you HOW a telescope allows you to see more distant objects.

    Reflective or refractive.

    > I don’t give a crap about the state test scores, my kids learn and they love science.

    See above.

    > That is all the validation I need.

    But that’s not all the validation the people paying for public education need. Representative government means high-handed dismissals like that are displays of immature bravado.

    But I’d welcome your making your disdain more widely known. I can hardly think of anything that’ll be more effective in propelling all public education reform proposals.

    > BTW, I’ve never said I was in favor of any pay for performance plans and as far as the tests go, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    Since charters are public schools in every sense of the word but being a pseudopod of a school district, they have to conform to all aplicable state and federal requirements including NCLB.

    > I seem to remember that in the largest and longest running charter school experiment, the state of Ohio, charters are doing a worse job than the public schools.

    Something a bit more reliable then your memory would be nice. Oh look, a link!

    > Here’s the link to the data from the Ohio Dept. of Education:

    Having read the entire report it’s clear that charters perform at state average level to above and that’s with no more then a few years of operation, smaller budgets and getting the more troublesome kids from the district schools.

    > Or here’s more from a pro charter group:

    And here’s some more from the same page:

    She found percentage of both traditional and charter schools that charter school students outperformed students in making AYP under NCLB rose. Fifty-two percent of comparable district schools in most states.

    I absolutely LOVE this quote, also from page 21:

    Yeah, it’s peachy isn’t it? I’d certainly invite everyone to read the section for themselves. It’s the one labeled: Other Indicators.

    Well this is old home week, hey? You misrepresent some piece of research and I respond with the quotes out of the same publication that are necessary to appreciate the misrepresentation.

  47. Andy Freeman says:

    > BTW, I’ve never said I was in favor of any pay for performance plans

    I didn’t say that MiT supported any of the plans, I said that he claimed to support the idea but opposed all plans.

    He agrees that I’m correct about the latter. Does he oppose the idea? If so, why should we pay good teachers more?

    > and as far as the tests go, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    MiT “forgets” that bad private schools are far more likely to be closed down than bad public schools.

    As far as the “goose gander” thing, I note that MiT wants to shut down mediocre private schools but has yet to see a public school so bad that he thinks that it should be shut down.

    He’ll object to that characterization but won’t manage to come up with an example of a public school that should be shut down.

  48. Mike said:

    “I have 3rd graders who can explain how the Bernoulli effect allows us to breathe…”

    How does it do that, Mike?

  49. Rags and Allen,

    My bad, I was thinking of the role of respiration in speech production, which is where Bernoulli comes in.

    Allen,

    Only YOU could read a chart that clearly says 58% of charter schools in Ohio are in academic watch or academic emergency vs. 10% of the public schools, and claim the charters were doing better.

    As for the “other indicators”, what of them? Public schools have to deal with them too.

    Andy,

    I have never heard of an instance where a charter school was shut down due to poor academic performance. The only ones I’ve ever heard of being shut down were due to finacial mismangement. My reading on that is limited to Texas, so perhaps you can enlighten me on that one.

    I’ve answered your question about shutting down a public school numerous times. If the local public school is THAT bad, then find the people responsible and hold them accountable.

  50. Allen,

    Define what a good education is, please.