Friday, December 4, 2009

Pay for performance

Pay for performance sounds so good, it conveys images of comfort like motherhood and apple pie. The devil is in the details.

How do you measure the performance?
Whose performance is measured?

When you try to apply these to the educational environment, this becomes troublesome. There can be a rational approach to this problem and should be a consideration as the School Committee, School Administration,  and the teachers sit down to begin to renegotiate their contract terms.
A much broader assessment of teacher performance was needed to capture the breadth of the teacher's role (Gratz, 2005). After four years and substantial effort, teachers and administrators collaborated to produce a new plan that the board, teachers, and voters ultimately approved. In the process, Denver expanded its definition of performance.

Denver's groundbreaking professional compensation plan replaces the traditional "steps and lanes" approach to compensation, in which teachers receive annual "step" increases as well as "lane" increases if they earn additional degrees. Only one of the new plan's four components directly addresses academic achievement goals—and that one is based significantly on teacher-set objectives, not just standardized test scores. In addition to student academic growth, the plan addresses teacher skill and knowledge, professional evaluation, and market incentives—compensating teachers who work in hard-to-serve schools or in hard-to-staff positions.

Note of caution: Since it took Denver four years to get to an agreement, I certainly would not expect any immediate agreement here. It would be nice to start the discussion and eventually get to something better than what exists.

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