Opinion
Teaching Profession Opinion

Lessons for Performance Pay from the Financial Crisis?

By Eduwonkette — November 17, 2008 1 min read

This fall, we’ve heard a lot about how short-term pay incentives on Wall Street encouraged traders to take huge risks, and ultimately ushered us into our current financial mess. Ask the folks at Lehman Brothers - the decisions that maximize profits in the short-term don’t always pan out in the long-term.

It’s curious that at the same time, journalists and talking heads have pushed performance pay for teachers onto center stage. Proponents of performance pay often want to use one year of test score data in order to pass out bonuses - in other words, reward the attainment of short-term goals. But as Jay Mathews noted in his article this morning, the kind of growth we’re after is what makes a student perform well in college, in the workplace, and in life.

There are good reasons to believe that the instructional strategies that produce short-term growth may not always serve students well in the long-term. So I suspect that there are at least two types of high value-added schools or teachers - those whose effects persist, and others who just produce short-term gains. Might we learn something from the financial crisis and hold some of that performance pay in escrow? Or revamp our accountability systems so they aren’t focused solely on short-term gains?

And a teacher quality bonus:
Robert Pondiscio
offers a smart response to the Mathews article.

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