To the Editor:
In response to“Florida Governor Seeking to Boost Performance Pay” (March 14, 2007):
The only reason the idea of performance pay sticks around is that it sounds so simple: Kids do well on the tests, and teachers get more money. Politicians perpetuate this hoax because that is what politicians do: They say what sounds politically easy to do to get votes, whether the plan has merit or not.
If Florida’s governor really is committed to performance pay, then his own job should depend on its success. Although he has promoted such pay with much fanfare, there is no research-based proof that the underlying concept has ever worked, and it will cost a lot of money.
So, if performance pay is good for teachers, it should also be good for the governor. To make the process as fair as possible, Florida should hire thousands of independent testers and give them strict instructions on how to administer the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. They should be told not to give students any help whatsoever, since teachers’ pay will depend on the outcome, making uniformity important. If scores go down, the governor should be fired; if it happens again with the governor’s replacement, then the teachers and the replacement governor should be fired.
A version of this article appeared in the April 04, 2007 edition of Education Week as A Novel Twist for Florida’s Pay-for-Performance Plan