Thursday 7 June 2012

Performance Pay for teachers

I want to post a thought (or 3) on this one. It is a result of a comment made on air (source unknown) where it was suggested that the national standards would be a good way to measure teachers' performance. (Please remember the National Standards were NOT developed with the full involvement of teacher professionals and were NOT trialled to see if they were any good or would even be successful.)

So, here's an hypothetical situation...

Teacher A has 20 11 year old students who have good literacy skills. In fact they all have a reading age of 11 years when they hit his classroom. Let's assume for the sake of this argument the national standards require all these children to be reading at 12 years by the end of the year in which they turn 12. Not unreasonable?
Teacher A works hard and moves all his charges on by that year of growth and all achieve the standard by the end of year.

(Stay with me here...)

Teacher B also has 20 11 year old students, but these children have a poor background in literacy and have reading ages ranging from 7 to 9. Teacher B works just as hard with these children and manages to get them ALL up to an 11 year reading age. Some have improved their literacy scores by the equivalent of 4 years over the 12 months!

However the standard says they should all be reading at 12 years. Teacher B has, therefore, failed.
Performance pay goes to Teacher A as his students have all reached the standard.

I know, it's simplistic, but it is another example of why performance pay needs to be treated with extreme care. I mentioned yesterday the experiences students come into the classroom with - some have wider, more developmental experiences than others. No matter how 'good' a teacher is, you cannot guarantee the same can of baked beans at the end of the process.

Many of the public are not aware that we ALREADY HAVE excellent, robust appraisal systems in place. (The government doesn't want you to know this... spread the word!) Registered Teacher Criteria have been 'upgraded'.

Good teachers are right there in front of your children every day. Ms Parata wants you to believe every teacher a child works with should be remembered, as adults, as a great teacher. They probably already are, but I respected and liked teachers in different ways. Some made learning easier, some 'taught' well, some made contact on a level that can't be easily described, helping me grow and guiding me as I grew, others inspired me in their subjects through their own passion.

It doesn't mean they didn't perform because I didn't get a pass in Latin. Maybe the teacher was great - and I was just c**p at Latin?

Tread carefully on performance pay. Yes, we all want great teachers.
But consider this... are they already there?

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