Performance Pay for Teachers

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Kudos to Betsy Rodgers and others of the TeacherSolutions group for their recommendations that link teacher pay with student learning increases. That’s a bold, and important step. I support their theme, and encourage taking the next step of linking teacher performance pay to increased student learning rates.

I especially appreciate Betsy’s description of the young teacher and Robert James’s comments about working in private sector jobs.

Let me tell you something about the young teacher who found herself questioning our compensation system. She put herself through college by working in retail, and she continues to work some nights and weekends to make ends meet.

I haven’t, maybe someone else has, documented this empirically. I think that non-classroom jobs of teachers offer important perspectives for increasing student learning, and thus should be considered by more teachers. If lower teacher compensation encourages outside employment, I’d suggest lower, not higher teacher base pay plus performance pay for increased student learning rates. Pay for results, not processes.

At the same time, it seems important that school administrators be able to answer the question, “What does it cost for a student to learn to say “ae” when seeing the letter /a/ and for each other product a teacher is paid to produce?

Until a school budget planner can tell a school board about such costs, no way exists directly to link individual student learning rates and teacher performance. In other words, how much increased teacher pay will generate one student learning one more vocabulary word? One dollar? One hundred dollars? Ten thousand dollars?

With answers to such questions, compensation packages can then link teacher pay to student learning costs.

This issue will become more important as software developers provide vehicles to chronicle independent, on-demand learning with mobile PCs (such as Tablet PCs and Ultra Mobile PCs). Perhaps digital natives and others will increasingly ask the question, “Who needs school teachers when I can learn more than they offer anytime, anywhere, and about anything with my mobile PC.” Far fetched? Hmmm.

Yes, this rhetoric appears foreign to traditional school budgeting and images of teachers. But, pay-for-efficient-performance appears as a latent, crucial part of the same theme Betsy and others have described.

Keep up the good work, Betsy and associates.

Thank you, Teacher Magazine Talkback for introducing me to Betsy and the TeacherSolutions network.

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Robert Heiny
Robert W. Heiny, Ph.D. is a retired professor, social scientist, and business partner with previous academic appointments as a public school classroom teacher, senior faculty, or senior research member, and administrator. Appointments included at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Peabody College and the Kennedy Center now of Vanderbilt University; and Brandeis University. Dr. Heiny also served as Director of the Montana Center on Disabilities. His peer reviewed contributions to education include publication in [I]The Encyclopedia of Education [/I](1971), and in professional journals and conferences. He served s an expert reviewer of proposals to USOE, and on a team that wrote plans for 12 state-wide and multistate special education and preschools programs. He currently writes user guides for educators and learners as well as columns for [I]TuxReports[/I].com.