Monday, November 2, 2009

Pay for Performance

Pay for performance is an interesting idea.  As defined by the American Center for Progress, "Pay-for-performance programs award teachers with differential compensation based on some combination of measurable outputs and observed teacher performance."  Typically, teachers are paid based on years of experience and education level.  Add tenure to the mix and critics of the traditional system say there are teachers being paid at the highest levels of the profession whose "experience" is outdated and whose education is no longer suited to the times. Proponents of pay for performance argue that incentives improve teacher effectiveness, encourage teachers to work in challenging urban and rural settings, and tie salaries to measurable outcomes and indicators.

On the other side are those who argue that the complexities of the teaching profession make it nearly impossible to assess any one teacher's success with students, that such a system would lead to more testing, and that it would put too much power into the hands of principals who may or may not be accurate or fair in their assessments.  There are also those who also argue that financial incentives do not actually have the desired effect, especially in a profession that is driven by non-monetary values.  Neither schools, nor teachers are for-profit.

Here is another interesting idea:  What if teachers were rewarded for outcomes that are tangible though not traditional?  These would be teaching practices we know benefit students and support academic achievement.  What if teachers had incentives, financial or otherwise, for attending students' sporting events or performances?  What if teachers who regularly used formative assessments or who graded students' effort and not just end product were compensated for that extra work?  What if teachers who provided students with options for assessment (more work for the teacher) or who found ways to allow students to have more decision-making opportunities in the classroom received a bonus for doing so?  We know that the 8 Conditions improve academic achievement.  What if school's incentivized teachers for the conditions in their classrooms that they have control over and that promote student aspirations and academic achievement?

1 comment:

Dee Gardner - Management Heretic said...

What a great article. I have worked with pay for performance in other industries with overwhelming success. Keeping the elements simple and well defined are key to success. I hope clear simple ideas win out in the debate in the arena of pay for performance for teachers.