incentivizing education

Dan Meyer salivates at the ringing of Michelle Rhee’s bell.

Employment contingency plans and cash incentives for teachers based on student results on standardized tests are misguided. Most disturbing, this approach creates a conflict of interest in schools seeking to educate the whole student (if keeping my job and/or reaching my desired salary level is contingent upon “achievement” results, why should I take sufficient time to care for my students’ emotional and psychosocial well-being?). But let’s say the “school” mission is limited purely to academic achievement; at the very least, such incentive encourages teaching to the test. While a snapshot in time may portray a particular school system as “achieving” more than another, how much innovative learning/teaching is pushed aside by this narrow, inflexibility?

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4 Responses to “incentivizing education”

  1. Dan Meyer Says:

    Your biggest assumptions are a) that the payment plan will derive exclusively from standardized test scores and b) that caring for students psychological and social needs isn’t a necessary component for improving instructional outcomes.

  2. Peter Says:

    Regarding b) Obviously emotional well-being plays a role in student achievement. But your assumption is that it always does. So when X is having a rough day but I’m confident X will “achieve” anyway, tell me why I should bother putting any energy into relating to X when my time can be spent purely on Y’s academics. I’m encouraged to cut emotional corners whenever possible.

    Regarding a) “exclusive” is your word, not mine. But if standardized test scores are not the _primary_ indicator then (perhaps, depending on what is) you’ve got a point. I think it is safe to assume however, that standardized tests will be the primary indicator.

  3. Tracy Rosen Says:

    A bit late on this one.

    I like the idea of being compensated for a job well-done.

    I despise the yardstick being used here. As long as standardized testing, the way it is now, is what is being used to determine achievement and the coinciding merit pay…I’m not for it. And I agree with you Peter, pretty safe to say that will be the yardstick in this case.

  4. Peter Says:

    In an interview with Charlie Rose, Michelle Rhee said that “absolutely” standardized test results will be given the “greatest weight” in her plan. Apparently, she also wants to pay students for attendance and “good behavior”.

    I like the idea of being fairly compensated for doing a job. If one teaches well, then the “rewards” are built-in. You get to relate to students and feel happy in what you do. What else does one need?

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