Monday, September 19, 2011

Fadish Merit Pay for Teachers Cut from Tight State Budgets.

Once you strip away every other proven professional incentive, the only thing left are bonuses and merit pay. The carrot and the stick approach that only works when rewarding manual labor. In more intellectual pursuits like teaching, it fails.
But like many schemes cooked up by corporate Republicans pushing school privatization, when the money dries up, it's on to other cuts based on the vilification of the teaching profession. And wages decline. It's happening now, all over...  
EdWeek: Some States, Districts Abandoning Performance Pay: Two competing pressures—decreased finances and rising policy interest—have left the future of performance-based teacher compensation uncertain.

A dicey fiscal climate and research that has shown limited impact have led some states and districts to scale back, abandon, or change their fledgling merit-pay programs, causing observers to wonder what the next few years will hold for compensation systems that link teacher pay to student achievement.
Just this summer, Texas officials squelched funding for the country’s largest merit-pay program, from $392 million to $40 million, blaming the state’s deficit. And New York City wiped out its $56 million schoolwide program, citing disappointing research results.

Yet new examples are also springing up, largely because of increased federal funding for performance pay and state and federal legislation encouraging, and in some cases requiring, alternative-compensation schemes.

Matthew Springer, the director of Vanderbilt University’s National Center on Performance Incentives, in Nashville, Tenn., said, “The next couple of years will be very telling [because of] local/state revenue shortfalls as well as the possibility of the federal funding well running dry, and the research evidence, to date, hasn’t been overwhelmingly positive,” Mr. Springer said … some say the interest in performance pay could be faddish and short-lived … The journal Education Next reported this spring that only 500 out of 14,000 districts had merit-pay programs. Two of the largest programs in the country were also dismantled this summer … The 90 percent reduction of Texas’s District Awards for Teacher Excellence program, which provided one-time bonuses linked to performance reviews, will mean the number of teachers receiving bonuses could decline from 180,000 this year to 18,000 within the next two.

The program is a victim of the state’s budget deficit that led to some $4 billion in cuts to school funding overall, state officials say, and not lack of support for merit pay.

And money isn’t the only reason some places have backed off performance pay. In July, the Santa Monica, Calif.-based RAND Corp. released a study of New York City’s merit pay program that found no substantial impact on teacher, student, or school performance. The district later announced it would discontinue the three-year program. The RAND study adds to a growing body of research that has found limited effects of merit pay, such as one conducted on Nashville teachers last year.

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