Donna O'Connor

This arrived in our mail box this morning and we wanted to share. Not many candidates can enthuse this many volunteers to go canvassing on the last, cold, Saturday of a campaign. Let alone a first time candidate for the Ohio House. But that's just what Special Ed teacher Donna O'Connor has been able to do every weekend.

Volunteers tell JTF that they have been recieving an incredibly positive response to Donna's message from everyone they speak too - and they have spoken to a lot of people. Well over 30,000 in fact!

Merit Pay: The End Of Innocence?

The current teacher salary scale has come under increasing fire, and for a reason. Systems where people are treated more or less the same suffer from two basic problems. First, there will always be a number of "free riders". Second, and relatedly, some people may feel their contributions aren’t sufficiently recognized. So, what are good alternatives? I am not sure; but based on decades worth of economic and psychological research, measures such as merit pay are not it.

Although individual pay for performance (or merit pay) is a widespread practice among U.S. businesses, the research on its effectiveness shows it to be of limited utility (see here, here, here, and here), mostly because it’s easy for its benefits to be swamped by unintended consequences. Indeed, psychological research indicates that a focus on financial rewards may serve to (a) reduce intrinsic motivation, (b) heighten stress to the point that it impairs performance, and (c) promote a narrow focus reducing how well people do in all dimensions except the one being measured.

In 1971, a research psychologist named Edward Deci published a paper concluding that, while verbal reinforcement and positive feedback tends to strengthen intrinsic motivation, monetary rewards tend to weaken it. In 1999, Deci and his colleagues published a meta-analysis of 128 studies (see here), again concluding that, when people do things in exchange for external rewards, their intrinsic motivation tends to diminish. That is, once a certain activity is associated with a tangible reward, such as money, people will be less inclined to participate in the task when the reward is not present. Deci concluded that extrinsic rewards make it harder for people to sustain self-motivation.

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Vouchers have no clear positive impact on student achievement

Voucher proponents have shifted their advocacy efforts from extolling the academic achievement of voucher participants to focusing on the value of school choice as a virtue in itself, according to a report from the Center on Education Policy, in Washington.

The education research and advocacy group reviewed and synthesized a selection of a decade’s worth of research and policy moves in vouchers and school choice for the report, released today. In it, the researchers note that studies generally have shown that vouchers have “no clear positive impact” on student academic achievement and mixed results overall. In response to those studies, the CEP suggests, voucher advocates have started talking more about other perceived benefits of vouchers, including more parental choice and satisfaction, and higher graduation rates.

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Keeping Informed about School Vouchers

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.