If we Get Performance Pay Right, it will transform schools, argues William Slotnick on Education Week.
Performance-based compensation . . . must be tied directly to the educational mission of a district and must focus on how a school system thinks and behaves—specifically in the areas of student learning, teacher support and rewards, and institutional culture.
. . . Linking teacher compensation to student performance stimulates discussion about the district’s goals for student achievement and what factors need to be addressed to reach those goals. This in turn leads to change.
Doing it right requires building trust between administrators and teachers, writes Slotnick of the Institute for Compensation Reform and Student Learning.
How do we evaluate teachers’ performance? Collect and analyze the data, writes Marcus Winters in City Journal. The data-crunching techniques that helped New York City police fight crime can be used in education, he argues.
Currently, 21 states have data systems capable of matching teachers to students. Duncan has pledged to use his discretionary funds under the federal stimulus package to get more states to do the same. It seems like a no-brainer. After all, who’s against having more information?
The teachers’ unions, that’s who. They’re fighting hard against the adoption of these systems precisely because the information they reveal is so useful. The unions insist, against all evidence and logic, that no meaningful variation exists in teacher quality. Further, in a clear case of making the perfect the enemy of the good, they argue that because test scores are a limited measure of student proficiency and statistical models for evaluating teacher quality are imperfect, the information that data-system analyses produce for individual teachers are not ready for prime time.
Without the use of data linking teachers to their students’ performance, there’s no meaningful evaluation of teachers’ effectiveness, Winters writes. A teacher may be observed once or twice a year — less in some states. In a study of large school districts by the nonprofit New Teacher Project, over 99 percent of teachers were rated “satisfactory.” NTP calls this failure to distinguish between excellent, good, fair and poor teachers The Widget Effect.