The trouble is that organizational structures cost money. If we cost it out on an hourly basis (5 additional hours a week at $30/hour, which is a low-ball number), we’re talking about $5400 per faculty member. Even if we assume that $3000 is delayed payment for this work, we’re not getting anywhere close to compensating teachers for this additional time. And the truth is that struggling teachers don’t just need common planning, but someone in their classroom on a regular basis to observe and coach them – which also requires money. So anonymous 7:14AM, I agree that this incentive plan is largely a capacity sorter.
jack phelps was not convinced about capacity sorting. (great post, btw – I’m happy we have you on the education team now instead of the banking one. everyone, read his whole comment.)
I'd say that sure, your average 1st year teacher is working his or her ass off just to get the kids focused. Among 1st years, pay might be a capacity sorter. But you think that as they get married, start saving for retirement, have their own kids and family to look after--basically their own, outside set of issues--most teachers still "give their best" not just while they're required to be in class, but in planning activities, developing content, reaching out to students or parents, and even analyzing quiz results to see which questions are weak and should be thrown out? There are a host of marginal efforts teachers can make outside their 47 minutes of class time (where, I agree, they probably give their best), and additional performance pay may encourage them to do so. And it's ridiculous to say that a teacher trying to retire won't work a little harder his last few years to make sure he's saved as much as possible!
So you’ve convinced me that performance pay could produce marginal efforts in teachers at different life course stages, but I want to add a “for whom” statement here – for teachers for whom the aggregate of small additional efforts put their schools in the running for getting performance pay. What proportion of teachers this involves depends on how high the standards are for getting performance pay – we’ll know more about this as details of the NYC plan become available.
andromeda, a teacher in a private school in Massachusetts, is thinking about leaving the profession because of the lack of merit pay. She writes:
It's not that I want to be paid a lot of money -- if I did, I wouldn't have gone into teaching (and private school at that). What rankles is that one of the major ways respect is expressed in this society is money, and I want to be respected if I'm good at what I do. I want to be rewarded if I work hard and do a good job. The way the system's set up, I can't….I'd like my employers to say, in a meaningful way, that they appreciate my contribution….And I'm really starting to think, maybe I'd be happier in a corporate culture that values me.
Just about every school system pays its teachers more if they take additional education courses. Most teachers complain that these courses do little or nothing to make them better teachers. If teachers didn't respond to financial incentives, very few of them would take any of the courses. But many, many do.
Good point, Roger - I didn't mean that teachers were unresponsive to financial incentives, but perhaps less responsive than private sector workers. I like the idea of looking at increases in masters degree enrollment in the past (i.e. when financial incentives were tied to degree attainment) as providing insight into just how responsive teachers are.
Keep the comments coming, everyone. I'll try to respond once a week.