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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Indiana teacher pay could tie to ISTEP?

In what is sure to be a lively debate, Indiana Education Insight (8/21/06) has reported that the Governor, the Indiana Department of Education and key legislators are quietly negotiating a bill for 2007, that if approved, would link teacher salary incentives to test scores.

This proposal would create a performance-based compensation system under which teachers who improve student test scores, demonstrate good teaching methods, assume leadership roles, or complete professional development would be eligible for salary incentives.

Indiana Education Insight understands that the Governor has presented a plan to Dr. Reed, State Superintendent of Public Instruction as part of a plan to address teacher shortages and improve teacher quality and retention.

The ISTA (Indiana State Teacher's Association) has historically been opposed to performance-based pay systems and favored more seniority-based pay plans. The lobbying at the state level will be pretty intense.

I personally have concerns if the "pay for performance" incentives are too closely tied to specific ISTEP scores from specific students. Especially since most research attributes somewhere around 70% or more of the variation in student test scores to things outside a school's control.

I might be less concerned about the other items such as "leadership roles" or "completing professional development activities" since one could argue that those things are more closely under the teacher's control. Still, I would want to see the details.

I do believe some type of pay system that is not exclusively seniority-based could have some bearing on teacher retention. Public education loses a lot of teachers in their first 5-8 years.

Dr. Reed is reported to have some reservations to the plan but may be favorable to some type of incentive system in the school areas that report high turnover in teaching staff.

9 comments:

P Reed said...

"Especially since most research attributes somewhere around 70% or more of the variation in student test scores to things outside a school's control."

What does the research attribute the variations to?

Anonymous said...

How about a true incentve that is based on the school's overall academic performance. Maybe in the form of a staff-wide bonus check for schools who improve their performance levels and meet their yearly AYP goals.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who teaches knows that any money given to the schools is a big help in purchasing instructional materials, thereby increasing student performance (ideally). However, it seems that our problem in this state is that schools achieving high test scores are receiving more money, and schools that have the bigger problems scoring higher are getting less money when they need it just as much if not more. It's kind of the age-old problem of "the rich get richer, the poor get poorer" academically. It's a tough call.

Anonymous said...

With "70% of things outside school's control" maybe giving more money to teachers is not the answer. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for getting our teachers more money. But focusing on the 70% might be a start in the right direction.

itsrich said...

I am tired of the “teachers need motivation to be better” discussion. Teachers don’t need the motivation. They need the money, tools and smaller numbers in class rooms so they can do what they to best, TEACH! If you hadn’t notice, teachers have accepted the wages, not because they want to get rich. Teachers are doing what they do because it is they like what they do. They enjoy teaching your and my kids. They are doing a job that you and I can not do. A majority of Teachers don’t need motivation.

Teachers need Parents who invest time in there child’s education, Parents who place high values on doing homework and getting good grades. Teachers need smaller numbers in a classroom so they can spend more one on one time with your child. Teachers need students willing and motivated to work hard to learn and expand their horizons. Teachers need the noble idea of no child left behind followed up with the money to truly support and make sure that no child is left behind. Teachers don’t need us beating them up when your children do not do well on tests. Take some ownership parents.

You provide these things for our teachers and you will see the performance on ISTEP increase.

Ahhh, but we all complain that education costs too much, give me a break. Give the teachers what they need.

Anonymous said...

High scores getting the money, lower scores are not?

I wonder if you look at dollar per student how true this would hold. Maybe just because more affluent neighborhoods pay more taxes. However in most part of the country, where education is mostly state funded, low income schools...lower test scores usually...get more dollar per student than the better schools. I think this especially rings true in urban settings.

Money is not the answer, best practices, good leadership, and wise pedigogical decisions will create a school.

Anonymous said...

What does this say to the teachers who may find it their calling to teach in poverty stricken districts? How can a teacher control for homelessness, single or intact parents working multiple jobs, minimal parental involvement, etc.? It appears that 70% fit into some uncontrollable factor. Yes, there are probably bad teachers, but that is universal with any profession. Here, here 'itsrich'. Clearly, parents who do take ownership are involved with their children's lives and their test scores are higher. I am convinced that children can attend any level of school and if a parent is involved, they will do well.

SCstudent27 said...

I too, agree with your concern over direct ties between teacher salary and the standardized ISTEP testing. Like you said, there is an enormous amount of score variation due to factors that are out of a teacher’s hands and therefore a student’s test score is in no way a direct reflection of teacher work, effort, or skill.

Another problem that could potentially make test scores an unreliable measure of teacher performance comes from the teachers themselves. In their book Freakonomics; A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner write about a group of teachers in the Chicago Public School system who altered their student test scores to produce better numbers and ultimately increase their salaries. According to the book, in 1996 the Chicago Public School system implemented a “high stakes” testing policy that used class test scores to determine a teacher’s bonuses and possible lay-offs. Using an algorithm to find irregular patterns, Levitt and Dubner analyzed over 700,000 tests, and came to the conclusion that about a dozen teachers had altered their students answer sheets. The authors used “a multinomial logit framework with past test scores, demographics and socioeconomic characteristics as explanatory variables,” to analyze the probability of students answering the questions correctly and to ultimately root out cheating teachers.

While the idea of cheating teachers is appalling and unacceptable, we must take into consideration the enormous stress these teachers, and all teachers are under. They already struggle with the pressure to produce classes of high scoring students to keep up with the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, so threats to their monetary stability could prove disastrous. When everything becomes focused on a single test score it seems that value is lost for both the teachers and the students. Teachers become hyper focused on producing well performing students, sometimes by any means possible, and education becomes more about multiple-choice perfection than actual learning.

Anonymous said...

This is a very sketchy topic. Teacher's should be held accountable for the students, but so should parents. I suggest looking at http://www.ISTEP-Practice.com for more help with ISTEP+. These resources can help alleviate some of the stress caused by the "ISTEP Rush" at the beginning of the school year.