A pay-for-performance study released recently by Vanderbilt University and the RAND Corporation followed nearly 300 Nashville Public Schools fifth- through eighth-grade teachers from 2007 to 2009. The result? No overall effect on student achievement across the entire treatment group.
“We sought a clean test of the basic proposition: If teachers know they will be rewarded for an increase in their students’ test scores, will test scores go up?” said Matthew Springer, executive director of Vanderbilt’s National Center on Performance Incentives. “We found that the answer to that question is no.”
Not many of us would argue against better pay for teachers. It also wouldn’t hurt to receive more acknowledgment for what we do, more respect, more support, more professional development opportunities and MORE HELP when we are struggling.
Rather than spending all that extra cash on teacher pay bonuses for raising standardized test scores, however, I would recommend staffing school districts, universities and colleges with qualified teaching consultants.
Provide instructors with someone who will work with them individually and confidentially. Give them someone who will observe their classes with a focus on constructive feedback rather than evaluation. Give them someone who can help them learn a variety of teaching strategies to engage students, assess their progress, deal with the difficult and unpredictable classroom events which disrupt learning. Give them someone whose job it is to stay current with the scholarship of teaching and instructional innovations to educate and inspire them.
My intention here is not to blow the Teaching Effectiveness Program’s horn. And I do believe that the most common sense way to improve what happens in classrooms is to provide new, struggling and competent teachers with access to qualified personnel and resources deeply invested in the teaching and learning process, deeply invested in “no teacher left behind.”