Teaching Profession

Performance Pay: The Other 70%

By Stephen Sawchuk — February 06, 2009 1 min read

One of the main sticking points about performance-pay programs is that less than a third of teachers, usually around 30%, teach grade 3-8 reading and math, the subjects and grade levels that are most frequently tested per No Child Left Behind. A performance-pay system, the argument goes, should be able to offer all teachers in a school at least some (if not all) opportunities to win performance bonuses.

A new paper from the Center for Education Compensation Reform, a federally funded body that provides technical assistance to the the Teacher Incentive Fund grantees and disseminates resources on performance pay, attempts to offer some possible solutions to that problem.

Some of the solutions we’ve heard before: Use a schoolwide pay model, an idea that’s already been embraced in certain contexts even by union officials. On the other hand, the paper also raises some ideas that could turn out to be pretty controversial. Teachers in grades K-2, it suggests, could consider using results from reading-skills inventories like the DIBELS, a test that has fierce detractors. (You can practically already hear the screams.) I can imagine similar concerns about using English-language proficiency exams for performance-pay purposes.

But overall there are some nifty ideas to explore here. Districts and schools could consider other state tests for areas like science and social studies; end-of-course tests for high schools; portfolios based on surveys, principal evaluation and other measures; individual teacher set goals (a la the Denver ProComp model); and other methods for awarding teams of teachers, such those that work together to help students with disabilities.

Let’s hear from our readers out there that are involved in performance-pay plans about this topic. Leave a comment here, or drop me a line directly at ssawchuk@epe.org. Inquiring minds want to know!

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.