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Author Topic: How 'merit pay' squelches teaching
philnotfil
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http://www.boston.com/news/education/k_12/articles/2005/09/28/how_merit_pay_squelches_teaching?mode=PF

quote:
The idea of merit pay, sometimes called pay for performance, was born in England around 1710. Teachers' salaries were based on their students' test scores on examinations in reading, writing, and arithmetic. The result was that teachers and administrators became obsessed with financial rewards and punishments, and curriculums were narrowed to include only the testable basics.

So drawing, science, and music disappeared. Teaching became more mechanical as teachers found that drill and rote repetition produced the ''best" results. Both teachers and administrators were tempted to falsify results, and many did. The plan was ultimately dropped, signaling the fate of every merit plan initiative ever since.

Nonetheless, merit pay plans of all kinds continue to resurface, since the paucity of new ideas in public education narrows the thinking of policymakers and sooner or later propels all old plans to the front, regardless of their sad history. In 1969, President Richard Nixon championed a plan he called ''performance contracting," in which it soon became apparent that financial incentives not only failed to produce expected gains but also generated damaging educational practices such as falsifying school records and teaching to the test to boost scores artificially. The inability of contractors to develop innovative teaching strategies and the dismal results of the program eventually doomed performance contracting, and it was declared a failure. So much for learning from history.

Merit pay comes in many forms and flavors -- including extra bonuses for student achievement gains, satisfactory evaluations by principals or committees, acquiring additional duties, gaining new skills and knowledge, and serving in hard-to-staff schools. We've looked at dozens of plans in North America, South America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Guess what? None of them, past and present, has ever had a successful track record. None has ever produced its intended results. Any gains have been minimal, short-lived, and expensive to achieve.

Mysteriously, that hasn't prevented states and school districts all over the country (and the world) from venturing into this misguided plan to waste money and further strain an already exhausted system.


The sad part, that applies to pretty much everything in education, is how often these things come back around. I think that a part of it is education is so individual, but our society is so used to looking at the big picture and having everyone do it the 'best' way. Students have different ways of learning and teachers have different ways of teaching. Trying to make everyone do things the same way can't work.

If you look over the history of educational fads they all keep coming back, because they all work for somebody, but none of them work for everybody.

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Mormegil
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Merit pay != test-score-based pay
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Adam Masterman
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Morm,

Merit pay = ???

Adam

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Mormegil
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Seems like we had a thread a while back that covered this. But since I'm too lazy to search for it, I'll just summarize my thoughts: payment based on test scores works like paying computer programmers for each bug they fix.

What needs to be done is what is done in lots of other jobs: evaluation. Have someone else observe the kids and observe the teaching methods.

Are the kids dedicated learners with a so-so teacher?

Are the kids little demons that even a great teacher can't help, because the parents undo everything they are taught?

Is this teacher doing a so-so job, but if we gave them a different set of kids, would they do better?

You can take test scores into *account*, but personal observation is necessary, just like a lot of companies do evaluations, ask questions, look at results, look at effort, etc.

If teachers were judged solely by student performance, then that would mean the most priveleged kids (I don't mean the richest, but the ones who actually have parents that care about their education) would get the best teachers, because they would all intrigue to teach those kids, get high scores, and make more money. The kids who need the most help would sink lower than they already are.

Of course the sad truth is that some kids wouldn't do well if their teacher came from Krypton. I want to beat their parents' heads in for messing them up like that, but I honestly have no solution for them. The best we can do is try to keep them from dragging other kids down with them.

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javelin
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Here's your thread, Mormegil.
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LetterRip
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quote:
If teachers were judged solely by student performance, then that would mean the most priveleged kids (I don't mean the richest, but the ones who actually have parents that care about their education) would get the best teachers, because they would all intrigue to teach those kids, get high scores, and make more money. The kids who need the most help would sink lower than they already are.
Have each teacher rank each child by difficulty to teach (based on some sort of rubric), and have each childs knowledge level assessed after each teacher, then you can compare the success each teacher has in improving the students knowledge over the previous level in that area of study. Thus the pay could be based on the accummulation of individual improvement versus ease of success in improvement.

LetterRip

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Loki
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Seems like standardized tests would be a good way to do this, have them encompass many things, even concerning art and music for those enrolled in those classes. For instance: Draw an 3 dimensional object using line and value. Music if I knew more about it could use scales and such and students would have to determine the next note or whatever. And science is easy enough to test. I think this could work and could endow kids with much knowledge if it was done right.
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Adam Masterman
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Letterip,
The problem with your idea is that it assumes that teachers are the sole influencing factor on a childs intellectual development, whereas in fact they aren't even the primary one.

Adam

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Lisa M.
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The problem is that politicians with no background in education believe that they can "fix" it, without ever stepping foot into a modern classroom to see how things work.
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