Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

Teacher Pay and Student Learning

May 09, 2006 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

We write in response to a series of letters to the editor about our Commentary “Aligning the System: The Case for Linking Teacher Pay to Student Learning” (March 29, 2006):

Keith Newman (“Pay for Performance? Yes, But for Families,” April 12, 2006) worries that teachers can’t be fairly judged because there is no way to “account for a child’s family background.” If achievement were the basis for measuring instructional effectiveness, we would heartily agree. In contrast, sophisticated “value added” models do account for these differences, by tracing individual children over time. Because they measure a student’s growth, rather than where that student scores on a vertical scale at a single point in time, they can effectively identify the most outstanding, as well as the weakest, teachers. When combined with other observational measures (planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction and professional responsibilities), the result is a fair means to evaluate teachers.

Denise Gelberg (“Aligning the Arguments,” April 19, 2006) believes that “school boards would object strenuously to sharing decisionmaking” on the critical issues of pedagogy, curriculum, and assessment. That depends on the nature of the compromise being offered.

The quid pro quo that lies at the heart of our comprehensive-school-reform model provides both sides with new roles and responsibilities. Both educators and school boards have to accept the compromise before the model takes effect.

When success for teachers depends on what happens in their classrooms, rather than solely on what happens at the bargaining table, they should have an equal say in these decisions, plus a good deal more. In our model, teachers would get peer review in the observation component of evaluation and a key role in the remediation process. They would also enjoy the benefits of a major expansion in professional development that includes more paid days, multiyear mentoring for new teachers, and the introduction of teacher-coaches to improve craft.

School boards would get accountability at the level of individual teachers and administrators. This means they would have the ability to reward those who have proven effective in achieving significant student-learning results; require struggling educators to undergo remediation and remove those who fail to improve in a fair and timely manner and whose instructional practices harm children; and pay bonuses and higher salaries for educators in hard-to-serve settings and hard-to-staff subjects.

Linda Mele Johnson (April 19, 2006) uses anecdote to question the facts behind our empirical statement for Tennessee that “average instructional effectiveness plummets in the last third of teachers’ careers.” She writes that when she asked a group of veteran teachers about the advantages of being close to retirement, they told her that they no longer had to pay much attention to the test. Our facts remain uncontested, and if what Ms. Johnson claims is generally true, it reveals precisely why it makes sense to include individual-level accountability in the evaluation and compensation process.

Steve Grineski (April 19, 2006) says that teachers will not “think more about students and their learning, work longer hours, talk more with parents, and create more exemplary lessons simply because they have a chance to earn $750 ... or $1,500 [extra].” In our model, the reward for outstanding performance is financially quite significant. Rather than bonuses, salary is built into the rungs of a career ladder, and all teachers are free¾competing with themselves, rather than with each other¾to climb the ladder based on their instructional effectiveness. Exemplary teachers can earn between 25 percent and 50 percent more than their colleagues and move through the career ranks much faster, because advancement is based on talent rather than on longevity.

By linking these financial rewards to increased professional development and instructional assistance, educators will have the incentives and the support necessary to significantly improve student learning outcomes.

Theodore Hershberg

Director

Operation Public Education

Professor of Public Policy and History

Barbara Lea-Kruger

Director of Development and Communications

Operation Public Education

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pa.

A version of this article appeared in the May 10, 2006 edition of Education Week as Teacher Pay and Student Learning


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP
Education Massachusetts National Guard to Help With Busing Students to School
250 guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans, as districts nationwide struggle to hire enough drivers.
1 min read
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass. Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, activated the state's National Guard to help with busing students to school as districts across the country struggle to hire enough drivers.
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Education FDA: ‘Very, Very Hopeful’ COVID Shots Will Be Ready for Younger Kids This Year
Dr. Peter Marks said he is hopeful that COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner.
4 min read
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021. On Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, Marks urged parents to be patient, saying the agency will rapidly evaluate vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds as soon as it gets the needed data.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021.
Jim Lo Scalzo/AP