Opinion
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor

On Merit-Pay Models, Some Reporting Tips

July 12, 2010 2 min read
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To the Editor:

You recently published a decent article with a terrible headline, “Merit-Pay Model Pushed by Duncan Shows No Achievement Edge” (June 9, 2010), following the release of a Mathematica Policy Research report on Chicago’s implementation of the Teacher Advancement Program.

Also recently, the University of Colorado at Boulder released an evaluation of Denver’s ProComp system, which showed positive results for that performance-pay model in student-achievement gains, as well as in other areas (“ProComp May Have Boosted Teacher Selection, Retention,” Teacher Beat Blog, edweek.org, June 22, 2010).

As one of education’s most trusted information sources, your paper should have covered the Denver story with the same zeal and enthusiasm given the Chicago one.

Jason E. Glass

Eagle, Colo.

To the Editor:

Your article “Merit-Pay Model Pushed by Duncan Shows No Achievement Edge,” on Mathematica Policy Research’s study of the first two years’ implementation of Chicago’s TAP program, notes that the findings are “at odds with other studies of the Teacher Advancement Program model.” I would like to tell you about the positive impacts of the TAP system as it relates to my organization, the Algiers Charter Schools Association in New Orleans.

Our schools adopted the TAP model when they reopened in December 2005, following Hurricane Katrina. Before the storm, many public schools in New Orleans were failing, but in the city’s restoration, models like TAP have helped improve those once-failing schools. Now, the ACSA uses the TAP system in all nine of its charter schools, which together serve over 5,400 students.

While many people focus on the performance-pay aspect of TAP, there are greater advantages to this model. TAP creates a dynamic learning environment for principals, teachers, and students. In the ACSA network, it provides teachers with more opportunities to take on leadership roles as mentor and master teachers. It has supported the association with the recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers, and in bridging the achievement gap. For the 2008-09 academic year, seven of our nine schools achieved more than one year of student academic growth, while the remaining two schools achieved one year.

During my year as the chief executive officer of ACSA, I have come to appreciate and value TAP as the professional-development model embraced by our employees. We are very proud of our partnership with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, which operates TAP, and of the effect the program and our teachers are having on students and the Algiers community. We see TAP, and the fidelity of its implementation, as vital to strengthening the collaborative learning cultures in our schools.

Andrea Thomas-Reynolds

Chief Executive Officer

Algiers Charter Schools Association

New Orleans, La.

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A version of this article appeared in the July 14, 2010 edition of Education Week as On Merit-Pay Models, Some Reporting Tips

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