To the Editor:
Having taught in North Carolina, and as a current South Carolina teacher, I was interested in the comparisons between the two states in your Quality Counts 2008 special issue (Jan. 10, 2008). One item that intrigued me was the rewards for high-performing or improving schools and teachers.
In North Carolina, as you report in “States Experiment With Pay for Performance,” teachers in schools that met or exceeded expectations were given $750 or $1,500 bonuses, respectively. I was fortunate enough to have worked in a school where teachers earned bonuses fairly consistently. We were a low-performing school to begin with, but brought our students’ success rate on end-of-course tests from 32 percent passing to 72 percent passing in five years.
When I moved to South Carolina, I was again at a low-performing school. For three years, we made progress, and the school was given additional monies for staff development. This helped us purchase technology and offer extracurricular programs, and assisted us tremendously in bringing our school from low-performing to average with above-average improvement. Our “reward” for this progress, however, was to have our monies snatched away. As a result, we have begun to slide again. How was this a “reward” system?
A version of this article appeared in the February 06, 2008 edition of Education Week as When Performance ‘Rewards’ Are Snatched Away