Thursday, March 12, 2009

Merit Pay for Teachers - So Self Serving, So Stupid!

Education - qualityg explodes his own Fireworks! "High School State Test Scores Improve for Reading; Lag in Math, Science, Social Studies and Writing" - WRONG AGAIN!

I wrote this post a 1 1/2 years ago when this silly subject was first discussed. It is starting to raise its ugly head again. Below is the headline in The Detroit Free Press newspaper.

3/12/09 - A major push to tie teacher pay in Michigan to student performance is expected in the coming months, with President Barack Obama and his choice to lead the U.S. Department of Education having expressed their support for the once-taboo notion.

This year my fireworks are aimed at the never ending saga of "The Demise of American Management in Education." Schools Apply Bonuses & Incentives To Test Scores

See what our business practices (management) are doing, they are spreading the falsehood to our educational system that money is a motivator and that you can only get good qualified people through extrinsic rewards and bonuses.

This assumes that teachers are not self-motivated and not professional and the reason test scores are low is because they don't make enough money. This is absurd.

They have also transferred the filth that teacher performance will increase if enough money is dangled in front of employees (teachers).

Fundamentally this thinking is dangerous because it will help destroy the reason why schools were created. Any action (i.e., incentive) or rule that takes away the needs from the students to serve something or someone else will result in failure.

We are not serving all our students by implementing limited self-serving actions that can not be substantiated with objective data.

I always thought schools were designed for the benefit of all students, not to create false conveniences that drives a wedge between teachers who are responsible for assuring student education exists "for all pupils."

I just finished reading another article that states where another school system is applying bonuses and incentives to teachers in order to improve test scores and enrollment. This is absurd.

We are taking from our teachers and children the chance to experience "Joy of Learning" (Deming). These types of suggestions are alarming to me because the education system is following the same pattern as big business. Incentives, rewards, etc... are extrinsic that drive the wrong behavior.

First of all there is no "Standardization" ( among our educational system, in fact even with a school district there is no Standardization within their own schools. Here are some examples:

Incentive plans for teachers
Various states and cities have incentive pay plans for teachers.
Texas has the biggest bonus plan in the country, $260 million to give bonuses of $3,000 to $10,000, primarily based on test scores, to teachers in about 1,000 schools with high numbers of low-income students.
Houston approved $14.5 million for bonuses of $3,000 to $10,000 to teachers whose students raise their test scores.
Wisconsin offers a total of $1.8 million in grants to 20 districts that implement an alternative pay system based on several factors, including test scores, and then report on how well it works.
Florida OK'd $147.5 million to give the top 25% of teachers a bonus of 5% of their salary. The plan is primarily based on test scores.
Iowa has been experimenting with pay-for-performance plans since 2000.
The latest plan rewards all the teachers in a building when the school has met several goals, including higher standardized test scores.
That state's Legislature has allocated $24 million to study the costs and results of performance pay.
Rhode Island's budget includes money to study performance pay for teachers.
Minnesota has an $86-million voluntary plan, offering school districts an additional $260 per child if they pay teachers based on whether they meet performance guidelines.
Denver offers $25 million for a variety of performance pay plans both to teachers and school-wide for student achievement. It also offers bonuses for skills and knowledge and for teachers in high-demand subjects like math and science.
North Carolina will give teachers $750 to $1,500 for meeting or exceeding various benchmarks in student performance.
Chattanooga, Tenn., offers a wide variety of incentives, ranging from money to housing, to attract highly qualified teachers.
Sources: The Education Commission of the States and Free Press research

What affect will this have on the If students? Will they come to view learning as a means to get a reward/incentive? Will they will no longer identify learning as something worth doing for the long-term (whole life).?

American Management still believes rewards and incentives are the way to motivate employees to do a better job. At best, rewards will get some temporary reaction, but it does not last, nor does it change behaviors for the long term and it does more harm than good. Same thing will happen in education. Parents & Teachers Union PLEASE DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN!!

It doesn't matter whether or not it is business or education, granting performance for pay takes the employees (teachers) focus off the target/aim of education and puts it on extrinsic rewards that cause jealousy, envy and poor working relations.. We need cooperation before there can be competition.

You are going to use Standardized Tests as a measure? You have got to be kidding. Have you ever heard of variation? Example, a sixth grader finally gets a good score on a standardized test. Do you reward the sixth grade teacher only? What about the 5 previous teachers, does this mean they were all bad, why would they not get a bonus? What if there are 3 sixth grade teachers, do they all get a bonus or just the homeroom teacher?

By What Method will you use the Standardized Tests to score excellence? That is ridiculous, your tests scores do not reflect the overall goal of education and that is to teach children knowledge and skills, not to pass tests that are flawed and biased depending on what school system you live in.

Our current educational system is broken and will continue to get worse with ideas like this coming into education. If you don't believe me study our American Management System.

Question for teachers? When grading papers (not tests) do you say why can't this student understand, or do you ask does the student need extra help or specialized help? Do you ask yourself how to improve your own teaching methods? Do you just say "Oh well?"

Warning for teachers - Have you ever heard of Rating & Ranking (I call them Nasty 1 and Nasty 2)? Read my post @ I'm guessing many of you have in some way from friends and family. Actually you rate and rank students based on test scores (how sad).

What about "Forced Distributions"? This is Nasty 3 and not as well known as Rating (Nasty 1) and Ranking (Nasty 2). Let me tell you what this means, they will eventually put you into groups and sub-groups (? - has anybody in management done a cost-benefit analysis to see how many systems and admin people will have to be hired to make sense of all this).

What happens next is if your group (high test scores and attendance) you will get a percentage raise (big, big mistake) or a bonus? What if one group only has higher attendance, they will also get an increase but not as much as group 1.

You see consultants and higher education types will convince your senior management that you must have a bell shaped curve. This way some of you are winners and some of you are losers. It all depends on variation (special or common, I know, I know, what is this?).

So next year, knowing your that Johnny's little brother will be in your grade do you just roll the dice or do you say no way because Johnny missed 12 days of school because his Dad overslept and he missed the bus?

What about Jenny's little sister who is also moving into your grade and the mother wants you again for her teacher. Problem is you know from the little sister's teacher that she scored so low on the state tests that she was one of the big reason she did not get a raise.

Think about these basic scenarios - PLEASE!

AFT and other teacher unions do not be like the UAW and wait for things to happen and then scream and cry to your membership. Plan and be preventive.

Be a Voice and Not an Echo!

Other Educational posts by qualityg:

Can be found by clicking on the label "Education" at the bottom of this post or on the left hand side of the Blog.

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