NYCS abandons merit pay failure

From the NYT, as the largest school district in the country abandons teacher merit pay because it didn't work, Ohio is about to adopt it

A New York City program that distributed $56 million in performance bonuses to teachers and other school staff members over the last three years will be permanently discontinued, the city Department of Education said on Sunday.

The decision was made in light of a study that found the bonuses had no positive effect on either student performance or teachers’ attitudes toward their jobs.

Study after study finds that student test scores do not improve because teachers are compensated with bonus's and merit pay. Instead what we are seeing as these corporate education reforms spread is more corporate type behaviors, such as pressure to cheat.

Teacher Attitudes about Compensation Reform

We want to bring to your attention 3 study papers from The National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER). Some of it is pretty dense reading and probably isn't for everyone on a sunny summer's day. However we are heading into a period where lots of these issues are now front and center in how it impacts the teaching profession. It's worth a few minutes to simply read the conclusions if the entire paper is a little too much.

As Ohio moves towards high stakes teacher evaluations using student test scores, and of course, merit pay based on these high stakes evaluations it will become increasingly important for educators to understand these issues. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses and the state of current understanding will be crucial, for it is certain that there are lots of corporate education reformers who care less about whether new approaches actually work, and care more about profit seeking or their ideologically driven agendas.

The first paper looks at Value-Added Models and the Measurement of Teacher Productivity, and unsurprisingly finds that while VAM has some interesting uses, the data and measurement techniques are not mature enough to be reliable for high stakes decision making.

Value-Added Models and the Measurement of Teacher Productivity

The second paper looks at Teacher Attitudes About Compensation Reform, and finds that

We conclude with a reminder that our analysis says nothing of the politics of adoption. Whether a district is able to successfully adopt compensation reform clearly depends on its relationship with its teachers union, not just the attitudes of individual teachers. And while the WSTCS presents these various incentive plans as if they are separate from each other, if compensation reform is to have the types of effects that advocates and reformers hope for, various combinations of incentives may need to be considered: not just merit pay alone but merit‐pay combined with subject‐area pay and/or combat pay and/or NBPTS incentives. Teacher opinions about such combinations are an important topic for future research.

The final paper we want to bring to your attention covers Stepping Stones Principal Career Paths and School Outcomes, simply to highlight that school and student performance is affected by many complex variables, including school leadership itself.

We hope you continue to find the research we bring to your attention useful and informative and if you are aware of any research we haven't uncovered please let us know.