Sunday, October 21, 2007

Teacher Incentives


The Following appeared in the NY Times:


"The New York City plan is not a straightforward arrangement, in which individual teachers throughout a school system receive extra money based on the performance of their students. Rather, bonuses equivalent to $3,000 per teacher will be given to schools that meet overall performance standards.

Four-member “compensation committees” at each school, consisting of two teachers, the principal and a principal’s appointee, will decide how to divide the money. They can reward everyone equally or give more money to the teachers whose students’ scores rise the most.

The program is starting this year in 200 schools with high concentrations of poor children. It is expected to reach 400 schools next year. The schools have not been named yet.

So how, exactly, will the prospect (but not the guarantee) of earning $3,000 (or possibly earning far more, or nothing at all) change teachers’ decisions and behavior?"


OK here is my take on this... Is this implying that we as teachers are not doing enough already? Is a carrot going to make us run faster? I'm doing the best I can carrot or no carrot. The underlying assumption here seems to be that we as teachers can work harder if given more money. Show me the teacher that steps back and says, "Well if they paid me $3000 more I'd get them to pass." I think this is a union busting tactic and an insult to our profession.

11 comments:

Superfly said...

I've been waiting for you to post about this... Everything about this scheme is just ridiculous. And basing it on test scores?

And I love your bit here:
"Well if they paid me $3000 more I'd get them to pass."

Is this what they really think of teachers? Really?

Anonymous said...

It is generally thought that union workers are out for money for doing the minimum amount that is required by the contract and only want to be paid more for doing more but not necessarily producing results. So now the city is offering monetary incentives to teachers and dealing with the latest craze for better test scores as if we are in the world of big business and this is what is at the heart of it all ...money. They also want to see results first and then give out the reward. There is some validity is doing so because in the past teachers have accepted per session positions to tutor for tests without ever having to be required to produce improved test scores and teachers have taken these positions and milked up as much as they can without any real effort. Perhaps the city simply wants to treat us as other professionals are being treated and want results. Is getting studens to pass standardized tests so difficult that we are not up to the challenge? Maybe we need to be given incentives to achieve better results.

W Brown said...

"Perhaps the city simply wants to treat us as other professionals are being treated and want results. Is getting students to pass standardized tests so difficult that we are not up to the challenge? Maybe we need to be given incentives to achieve better results."

What exactly are "results"? Test scores? If the money is linked solely to test scores do art, music and phys ed teachers give up on their curriculum and just focus on test scores? Do dean's and guidance counselors also get the incentive?

JEdgarGroover said...

Having worked in the private sector in a past life I'm all for performace-based incentives...HOWEVER...it doesn't work with teaching. How do you measure "productivity"? Standardized test scores? As a High School teacher I wonder who will get the bonuses? Will they go to the teachers who, for my subject (English) teach juniors and are thus being incented based solely on Regents scores? Does this mean that we are going to be teaching more and more and more to the test? It would seem so. The article in the NY Times on this topic stated that it was up to the administation at each school to determine how to dole out the money. This means they could distribute it equally across a department or a across a school...or they could award it to one or a handful of teachers. I don't know about you but I trust my AP, APO and Principal about as far as I can throw them. I certainly don't want them making these decisions.

In the end this does sound like a way to pit teachers against one another and to try to break the Union. It's too bad that the Union is so damn corrupt and that it wastes so much time defending lousy teachers. It would be a lot easier to defend the Union as an entity if it had an actual moral compass on board...at least that's what I've seen.

Ahhh...the NYC Public Schools. Trapped between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. It's the kids who lose in the end.

Anonymous said...

Even "big business" has moved away from monetary incentives. Corporations have been using other perks to motivate employees, like the bigger and better office or the reserved parking spot.

Monetary incentives, in the long term, simply do not work. After a while they just become part of the paycheck. I think rewarding teachers for a job well done, increasing teacher morale, and giving us more recognition are not bad things. However when you single out teachers and say "YOU worked harder than everyone else and here is a extra check" is only going to build resentment and an unhealthly form of competition. When the classroom becomes as cuttthroat as the boardroom its time to switch careers again.

I don't know what a perk program would be in an educational setting or how to decide who gets it. On the other hand when a kid told me this week that I had a great lesson that was pretty damn good all by itself. I couldn't spend it anywhere but it makes me want to hear it again and if I continue to improve my craft the rewards WILL come; or.....it's my dreamy idealism again. I can't help it when I read Brown's blog.

Underpaid but still happily yours,
Woolsey

Anonymous said...

Well, isn't that the motivation behind the new incentive program...to improve test scores? Isn't that what the article is talking about and what you are talking against?
What test scores do art, music and phys ed teachers have to worry about? Why should they be part of any incentive deal? Do these teachers ever have to face the fact that their students have failed a standardized test. Have you, wbrown, ever faced the blow of your students failing a standardized test? If you haven't then you need to place yourself in their position. As for guidance counselors aren't they paid higher than regular classroom teachers? Are they reviewed if students do not do well on tests or are the grade teacher or subject teachers under review with comparisions made between them when push comes to shove. Do you think for one moment that teachers are reviewed simply based on their wonderful teaching and how much they care about their students? Somewhat yes but lets face it...it is all about the test scores in our educational system. That is how each school is ranked and graded because we are such a large system and what other means do they have to get an idea of how students are acheiving
Is it right? No.
Is there another way? I am sure there is somewhere out there.
Am I being provocative? Yes but it is what it is.

Anonymous said...

Go Mr. Brown!!!!!

Mr Tesler said...

OK here is my take on this... Is this implying that we as teachers are not doing enough already? Is a carrot going to make us run faster? I'm doing the best I can carrot or no carrot. The underlying assumption here seems to be that we as teachers can work harder if given more money. Show me the teacher that steps back and says, "Well if they paid me $3000 more I'd get them to pass." I think this is a union busting tactic and an insult to our profession.

Couldn't agree more WB. It's degrading. What does that say to the arts, music, PE, and other teachers? Are they not as valuable (if not more in some cases) as other disciplines? Moreover, it implies that as teachers we don't work hard enough to get results.

teacher said...

What happened to the African proverb "it takes a village"?

...Or do they not do standardized testing in Africa?

Mr Tesler said...

The more I think about this teacher incentive plan, the more this "incentive," "incenses" me.

To think that any of us WOULDN'T, or WON'T, or AREN'T ALREADY doing all we can to help our students without a carrot of a measly 40 bucks a week (post tax) is offensive.

I can't even count the amount of hours I've put in, and I know my colleagues have as well, helping kids; from these blasted exams, to projects, to just sitting and talking about their problems.

Even the connotation of "merit pay." Yeeech! And for whose merit? Ours, or the kids? How about putting that money towards something meaningful? That 40 bucks a week won't do me much good. Take it, and put it where it belongs. Programs for the kids in arts, sports, music, etc.

laurie said...

i think that merit pay is one of the most terrible ideas to be created. people who entered this profession understood that they should do the best job without competeing for cash prizes. the idea of merit pay turns us into pedagological prostitutes. as far as union workers are concerned my husband is a 19+ veteran and he still takes pride in his wirk. you sound a bit ignorant when you make a comment for thousands of different union employees.