I have a question about teacher merit pay

<p>In all the discussions about tying teacher compensation to students' test scores, I can never figure out how they would compensate the many teachers who do not teach "core" classes. The gym teacher, the art teacher, the foreign language teacher, the theatre teacher, etc etc etc. And at the HS level, a teacher may teach a couple of sections of a "core" (e.g. English I), but then some electives (e.g. Creative Writing, Shakespeare). And is it really fair to compare the standarized test performance of the kids in "regular" English to the kids in AP English?</p>

<p>I don't want to start an argument on the merits of merit pay....it's just that compensating the teachers of non-core classes seems like such a big issue and I've never heard it mentioned. Does anyone know how it would work?</p>

<p>I'm going to take a stab at the AP vs college prep classes taking the same standardized test and say perhaps there is a different benchmark score expected for each class. For example, in our state the standardized tests can be pass or pass-advanced. Perhaps the college prep classes are looking for a certain percentage of students passing, while the AP classes are looking for a certain percentage attaining a pass-advance score.</p>

<p>Like you, I'm not going to discuss the merits of 'merit pay' for student scores...not going near that one. I'm just offering a scenario of how they might approach the same teacher with different sections, as you suggested.</p>

<p>I don't know what the right system should be for implementing a merit pay situation, but I do think that the schools need to "get real" and offer better pay schedules for teachers who teach math and science courses. Right now, many schools cannot get top M&S teachers because, frankly, people who are strong in those subjects often are in better paying fields. Yes, I know that the "ability to teach" is very important, but those WITH that ability AND M&S strengths are often seeking better paying careers.</p>

<p>As part of an application package for a summer program one of my kids wrote a paper about partnering industry with schools where industry professionals would do 2-3 year rotations teaching, their salaries being subsidized by the corporation so they didn't take a pay cut, their job waiting for them when they were done. Obviously there's a lot more to it and not everyone is cut out to teach, but it was a very interesting concept in bringing industry to the classroom in areas of math, science, and technology.</p>

<p>Mom2, I agree salary schedules have to be adjusted, BUT in addition to increasing STEM, we need to look at steps for elementary education. Where I live, a kindergarden teacher can get up to 100K. I think that has to be changed too. Parents value a teacher having say at least 5 years, experience, but the additional experience is valued too highly.</p>

<p>We were talking about this last night in one of my classes (I am working on my teaching certification.)</p>

<p>In our teacher's district, one way they are measuring teacher performance is through the progress of the children in the classroom. They pretest each class at the beginning of the year (be it chemistry or art or foreign language) and then retest at the end of the year. The results are used as part of the metrics for teacher merit pay.</p>

<p>If I teach physical education, family and consumer science, art, music, etc, my merit pay will be dependent on the entire student body's scores on the tested subjects.</p>

<p>It seems to me that paying some teachers more than others, based on the subject matter taught, is going to open a huge can of worms for all involved--teachers, students, administration, etc. Assignments become even more political, for example. I could never honestly say a high school physics teacher should make more than a kindergarten teacher, based on subject matter alone. How can greater importance be placed on the physics curriculum over some of the most profound educational foundation topics taught in the early years? It could be argued that the early years are the most important.</p>

<p>How do private schools do it?</p>

<p>Merit pay is one of those ideas which seems logical but which isn't. Here's why: there will be no correlation from year to year of performance so we will reward this group one year and this group the next. </p>

<p>We know this from the work of people like Daniel Kahneman, one of the pioneers in cognitive science and behavioral economics. One of my favorite things he has written and talked about is his experience early on with Wall Street. He was asked to review compensation at a securities firm and was given their performance rating system data. When he went through it, he realized they were rewarding based on performance that the data said didn't correlate to much of anything other than that it happened. By that, I mean performance varied enough year to year that the changes were chance from year to year. This meant some guy got a bonus one year and a pat on the back for doing great when it just luck and the bad year he had 2 years ago was just luck, etc. Note this assumes the people were all performing with at least the basic skill of the people they hired. Idiots would either get fired or not be hired, just as a guy who outperformed year after year would stand out. </p>

<p>If we assume that teachers are roughly similar - and that can be very roughly similar, meaning a fairly significant variation - and we apply those teachers to groups of kids who vary year to year, then you get garbage as a performance rating. We can identify the idiots and we may be able to identify the stars, though that's less likely given the variability of the kids year to year, but we can't say much useful about the vast number who aren't idiots or stars. </p>

<p>As a note, when MA started the MCAS assessments each school in our town made a big deal of how it ranked versus the others. The data kept piling up. You can see over time that the performance varies with school x better then school y then school z and whatever. It's essentially random. Not the overall level of our district performance, which shows we're very good, but the performance within that "very good". And if you look at our town and other high performing towns, you see that good schools reflect money and aspiration. I once did a quick run through of how much you could attribute the difference in our performance to one of the much more homogenous wealthy districts in the burbs and found it was quite possibly - see, it's a guess - more than the measured gap. By that, I mean the data suggested to me that we were over-performing relative to expectations given our diversity of race, ethnicity and income, but I didn't even try to adjust for the self-selection bias inherent in people choosing to be in this school district. I thought this might be a nice proxy for the power of aspiration but only in passing.</p>

<p>To me, the best way to evaluate teachers is through the principal, but that assumes the principal is competent and that mean the best way to evaluate teachers is by having better principals. Sometimes principals will screw up a school. A recent case was noted in our paper about a nearby school which spiraled down after the principal got rid of the teachers who didn't support his agenda. This makes the teachers union hesitant to give principals more power, but they are the managers in our system. I suggest we focus on getting better managers and a better system that supports these managers, including relationships across schools - which are "departments" - because a teacher who has issues in one place may thrive in another and a good organization recognizes that.</p>

<p>I'm saddened we focus on the kind of rough metrics all intelligent industry has largely abandoned. We're applying the kind of crude measurements used to evaluate sales staff at Best Buy (how many warranties you've sold) or at a market (how many transactions per hour).</p>

<p>Lergnom has it right. The idea of judging teacher merit based on student's output is ridiculous -- it is based on the idea that all students come into the system with equal ability and resources and all a teacher has to do is process the abilities. It suggests that students are raw materials that can be shaped at will by the teacher and the school system, when if fact, students, even 5 year olds, are human beings leading human lives with all the complexity that brings. </p>

<p>And it is sad that so many people have bought into the idea that works for judging the manufacture of appliances would work for judging the education of human beings.</p>

<p>My wife has been a teacher for 7 years. She has gotten lots of recognition, but still only received a salary of $48k a year. Kayf I would definitely like to know where a teacher makes $100k as an elementary school teacher. We work and live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Working in the city, from my understanding private school and charter school teachers make even less. My wife gets to work at 6am and leaves at 5pm daily and in addition she does lots of work and lesson planning on weeknights and weekends. If it went by hourly rate I'm sure she's pretty close to minimum wage with all the time put in. In addition there is mandatory meeting you have to go to after school hours every other month. The people doing it are definitely not doing it for the money. The police in the city make on average the $100k range, but teachers aren't valued as such. It's horrible. My wife has mentored numerous teachers, definitely some people are not cut out for it, and there are older teachers who should definitely be let go, but unions keep them in place. The district subjects them to way too many requirements with way too few hours to teach the kids. Basing it on test score is ludacris.</p>

<p>FYI my son took the STAR test, basically California's bench mark test. He got basic proficient and barely on some other category I think english. But this is from my son that has had 4.0 for the last two years, got six 5's on AP tests so far, and a 2080 on SAT and 34 on the ACT. So basing it on test is just plain crazy. Too much is riding on it.</p>

<p>I too want to know where teachers are making $100k...</p>

<p>^Westchester county which now official has the highest average real estate taxes in the nation. ($10,000). Not all teachers make $100,000, but some do. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/05/nyregion/05weteac.html?pagewanted=all%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/05/nyregion/05weteac.html?pagewanted=all&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>I love the idea of merit pay for teachers, it seems so logical. While obviously students may start at different points, you hope that a good teacher would get them at least a years worth ahead of where they started. If you have a kid in 3rd grade who is reading at a 1st grade level you hope the teacher can get them to a 2nd grade level. But that's not what happens. That kid (who is at 5th grade age) has already checked out of school. She's homeless. The school has no resources to give her extra attention. The teacher has 25 other kids many equally needy. This was the experience of a friend of mine in the Bronx. She said, I can't reach this girl. She needs more time and more attention than I have to offer. Ironically my friend is now in a suburban school and overnight has turned into a teacher all of whose kids do great. </p>

<p>But what really convinced me that testing doesn't work is the studies have read showing that the same teacher gets vastly different scores from year to year. It's just too variable on who is in your class.</p>

<p>Thanks, math :)</p>

<p>My issue with merit pay is that the way it's set up now is that the top (rich) districts will continue attracting top teachers. The inner city schools I worked with had really bottom of the barrel teachers (no, they're not all like this, but mine was and it was absolutely infuriating). IMO, it will widen the achievement gap even more and more. </p>

<p>Plus these tests are based on many things the teacher has no control over. If a kid is hungry because there is no food at home then he's not going to test well and that will reflect poorly on the teacher.</p>

<p>
[quote]
In our teacher's district, one way they are measuring teacher performance is through the progress of the children in the classroom. They pretest each class at the beginning of the year (be it chemistry or art or foreign language) and then retest at the end of the year. The results are used as part of the metrics for teacher merit pay.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>My kids have taken a lot of AP classes. For the most part, the AP classes are populated with highly motivated students who care about their GPAs. When the students don't understand the material, they get in study groups and teach each other. A teacher could be pretty poor and the vast majority of the students would still make it their business to learn the material.</p>

<p>There also isn't a standardized test, or even a good way to measure progress that an outsider could understand, for every class.</p>

<p>Here's a story that relates to how progress in a class is tested.</p>

<p>My S and my D each took AP Stats, same teacher, two years apart. My S never got it - he got the "pity 70" (the teacher would not fail them if they came every day and turned in their homework.) He didn't study for the AP exam at all, figuring that passing was impossible. He got a 3. My D got very high As in the class. She also got a 3 on the AP exam. How would one evaluate that teacher?</p>

<p>I heard one of the pioneers in teacher evaluation, a guy from Colorado (don't remember his name) on NPR the other night, talking about this in the context of the Chicago strike. He said, effectively, "Teacher evaluation is a great idea, but we don't really have effective tools to implement it yet. It's important to establish the principle, but it's also probably necessary to defer real implementation until we know what we are doing." </p>

<p>It is ridiculous to compensate teachers based on their classes' test scores without taking into account who is in the class. Eventually, it should be possible to track kids year to year on an individual basis, and to establish a kid-by-kid "par" for each teacher, so we can tell whether the teacher is exceeding expectations or not. Also, so that we don't reward teachers for kicking tough-to-teach kids out of the class, etc. But we are nowhere near the point at which we can do that, for the most part, even in the easiest subjects (math) not to mention things like gym or art.</p>

<p>By the way, in the aggressive suburban school districts in this area, experienced teachers top out at over $120,000/school year. That's not necessarily the "best" districts, which can afford to pay less because the jobs are so attractive. It's the districts that want to get better. Inside the city limits, teachers top out around $80,000. Which explains the steady exodus of good teachers to suburban districts. Private schools pay a good deal less, too, but they also offer free or very reduced tuition to teachers' kids, and that's an important element of their compensation structure. (Of course public schools also offer free tuition to teachers' kids, but somehow they don't get as much credit for that as the private schools.) Charters also tend to pay less, but that's largely because their teachers are young and tend not to stick around.</p>

<p>
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I heard one of the pioneers in teacher evaluation, a guy from Colorado (don't remember his name) on NPR the other night, talking about this in the context of the Chicago strike.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>That interview is what prompted this thread.</p>

<p>
[quote]
There also isn't a standardized test, or even a good way to measure progress that an outsider could understand, for every class.

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</p>

<p>Agreed. That's why the idea of basing merit pay not on your OWN merit - but on the merits of your students - is really kind of scary.</p>

<p>Honestly, when I worked in industry, they didn't do a good job of merit raises either. The problem isn't unique to teaching......</p>

<p>The CTU strike made me realize that there is a lot of excellent data on what makes a great teacher, but no administration has reached out to the academic community to help develop these standards. Before any other state legislature mandates a teacher evaluation system, it would be great if the experts, community leaders, teachers, students and parents could come together to create standards and expectations. From the plethora of strikes popping up in Illinois, it appears the state will be a hodgepodge of evaluation policies.</p>