kitchen table math, the sequel: My Teacher Merit Pay Plan

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

My Teacher Merit Pay Plan

It seems like every other week there is a new teacher pay reform proposal published, so not wanting to be left out, I figured I would offer my own ideas.

I propose a system roughly modeled on the Air Force promotion system.

Levels: There would be several levels of teachers, and within each level there would be steps based on years of service. Each level of teacher would have added responsibility... for example you might have novice teacher, teacher, teacher mentor, teacher supervisor, and master teacher. Within each level, there would be years of service raises.

Promotion: Promotion between levels would be based on a combination of value added scores (75%) and personnel ratings (25%).

Value Added Rating: The key to the value added scores part of the rating system would be to base it on a 3 year average of scores. This would serve to mitigate the effects of a "good" or "bad" group of students, and also take into account consistency over an extended period of time. I also think that weighting more recent years slightly would reward improving teachers, but a balance would have to be struck.

Personnel Ratings: Since a large part of my program would be to encourage high performing and experienced teachers to mentor newer teachers, I would create a rating system that not only took into account teacher mechanics like control of classroom, organization, use of time, etc..., but that also took into account more subjective measures like continuing education, mentoring, teamwork, and leadership. To ensure integrity, I would propose that the rating score would have to have concurrence between three separate people, perhaps a master teacher, a department head, and the principal of the school.

Certification and Education: I would include certain advantages to teachers who completed teacher education plans, perhaps awarding them slightly higher pay than teachers who started teaching with just a bachelors degrees, but teachers who started without a degree and proved themselves as competent teachers would catch up to the "certified" teachers within one year. Since most education certification programs only take one year, the only advantage to attending them would be if the program provided the new teachers with applicable skills that improved value added scores. Additional graduate education could also be factored into the personnel rating, but once again, because of the weighting of the value added scores, only programs that "added value" would make the program make sense. Hopefully, this program would cause education schools to reform themselves to emphasize real world skills, instead of concentrating on education fluff.

Tenure: Finally, I would include a high year of tenure program for the basic level of teachers. If after say three or four years, a teacher wasn't able to meet a certain level of performance, they would be let go. Since most studies I have read have stated that most improvement happens in the first two years of teaching, this should be enough time to determine who the good teacher are. Additionally, once promoted to a certain level, teachers would continually have to meet cutoff scores for that level. This would ensure that teachers would have to continually strive to for success.

Goal: The goal of my proposal is to reward good teachers, while at the same time encouraging education schools to reform. Since their would be years of service raises, teachers who peaked out or simply didn't want to take on the extra responsibilities of promotion would still be rewarded for dedication and loyalty to the profession. Because value added scores carry most of the promotion points, education schools would only be able to survive if they could demonstrate that they gave their students a competitive edge, besides for a piece of paper. Reform is on the horizon, I think that my rough outline of a program is a good starting point to design a pay system that rewards high performers and hopefully provides incentives for teachers to excel and to improve.

13 comments:

SteveH said...

The incentive plan I like is the one for parents and kids - full school choice.

Anonymous said...

Get serious!

How does one teach a full day, assess the day's work, "create" tomorrows incredible lessons, and continually improve through professional development?

Adding hoops for more money seems a bit simple, and, like most simple plans, is doomed to fail. Long live B.F. Skinner!

The spectrum of expectations varies. You want your children to be pushed, whilst others don't want their darlings to experience any stress.

Teachers give the "market" exactly what it demands, a balanced approach.

Independent George said...

How does one teach a full day, assess the day's work, "create" tomorrows incredible lessons, and continually improve through professional development?

Probably the same way that just about every other profession on earth does. Except for tenure, this is pretty much how pay/promotions are handled throughout the private sector.

The fact that this plan seems so radical tells you quite a lot about the structural problems in the education system.

SteveH said...

"Teachers give the 'market' exactly what it demands, a balanced approach."

A monopoly gives the "market" exactly what it wants? Wrong by definition.

Independent George said...

Teachers give the "market" exactly what it demands, a balanced approach.

That's actually exactly what the market doesn't demand. It's like the old joke about the three economists who go hunting. The Keynesian misses 10 meters left, the supply-sider misses 10 meters right. As the deer flees into the distance, the econometrician pumps his fist and yells, "Bullseye!"

The balanced approach, as you seem to be defining it, is a compromise which ensures that nobody is satisfied with education system.

I'm actually in the process of writing my first post here on this exact subject - looking at public education as a long tail problem.

Anonymous said...

The balanced approach, as you seem to be defining it, is a compromise which ensures that nobody is satisfied with education system.

And isn't this what the public really wants?

Independent George said...

And isn't this what the public really wants?

Er, no, that's kind of what 'not satisfied' means...

Parentalcation said...

How does one teach a full day, assess the day's work, "create" tomorrows incredible lessons, and continually improve through professional development?

One doesn't... why create tomorrow’s lessons, we have been teaching the same subjects for the last 100 years. It would be idiotic for a profession to require everyone to create something from scratch that has been done 1000's of times before.

Assessment isn't done daily, its done continually, and note that the personnel evaluations are done by administrators and made while observing teachers on the job performance.

Profession development is a joke... no where in my plan did I mention Professional Development... only continuing education that would be optional and only doable on the teachers own personal time.

Anonymous said...

Our district uses a performance plan called the Teacher Advancement Program. On paper this looks great, but reality is a different story. TAP has different professional levels: career teachers, mentors, and masters. The last 2 recieve stipends for added responsibility with masters generating about $11,000 extra per year. We have 35 masters that do not teach children, they run cluster meetings for teachers which foster collaboration and joint planning. They also evaluate the teachers under their care. We have 3 times as many mentors and they teach 2/3 of the day and spend theother 1/3 evaluating peers and "mentoring". Some of these folks have 3 years of experience. The merit pay is distributed 25% for success at increasing achievemnet on the state test, 25% for increasing achievement on a in house achievement test called the NWEA, and 50% on evaluations conducted by the masters, mentors and principal. Each teacher has 6 evals, 1/2 unannounced. Then through a very complicated formula that no one can explain these evaluation scores are compiled and plotted on a bell curve. A certain percent receive top bonuses and a certain percent receive nothing. The 2 hours of cluster time per week came out of former planning time. This district has 5500 kids and 33% of 10th graders were proficient or advanced on the state test in math. Imagine if the 35 masters helped those kids out? If a teacher dares to speak out the in house evaluations plummet even if the teacher is a star at raising achievement. Also no one knows which teachers receive bonuses and it is not to be talked about or one is not a "team Player". Our turnover is horrendous and we have lost over 100 teachers each year for the last 5 years. I don't have a problem with merit pay but this program does not work. However, the feds just awarded our district tons of money for using this model.

Parentalcation said...

Anon,

My rough guess at a plan was to eliminate several of the problems in your program.

1. I gave value added scores much more weight than evaluations, since student outcome is the bottom line.

2. I think value added scores should be based on an average of 3 years to reduce effects of bad luck on drawing a "bad" class, and to have consistant results be rewarded.

3. My personnel reporting system would have to be agreed upon by three different individuals and would have to rate people in specific areas. This would reduce personality differents and favoritism.

4. My plan is not a bonus system, its a promotion system. I forgot to add that I would have minimum time requirements to serve in each level, perhaps 2 years. Teachers performance in each area would be confidential, but not their "rank".

Anonymous said...

" no where in my plan did I mention Professional Development"

"...hopefully provides incentives for teachers to excel and to improve."

Sorry, I guess your goal of excel and improve happens magically. Not the you have cured the education system, any ideas or merit pay plan on how to solve the problems in Iraq? Maybe we could offer the generals an extra $10 000?

Do something useful. Stop whining and go read with your kid.

Sean Price said...

How does one teach a full day, assess the day's work, "create" tomorrows incredible lessons, and continually improve through professional development?

Why do teachers have to create their own lessons? If I were a teacher starting out I would want to buy a retiring teachers materials. Like buying out a medical or dental practice. Get all plans, materials, tests, assignments, and schedules to use in my classes. I could then spend my time improving them rather than creating them from scratch.

Is there a market for this kind of thing? Why don't teachers copyright and package their materials for sale?

I just don't get it.

Sean

Parentalcation said...

"Do something useful. Stop whining and go read with your kid."

ok