Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Incentive Pay for Teachers

"A new pay-for-performance program for Florida's teachers will tie raises and bonuses directly to pupils' standardized-test scores beginning next year, marking the first time a state has so closely linked the wages of individual school personnel to their students' exam results.

The effort, now being adopted by local districts, is viewed as a landmark in the movement to restructure American schools by having them face the same kind of competitive pressures placed on private enterprise, and advocates say it could serve as a national model to replace traditional teacher pay plans that award raises based largely on academic degrees and years of experience.

Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has characterized the new policy, which bases a teacher's pay on improvements in test scores, as a matter of common sense, asking, "What's wrong about paying good teachers more for doing a better job?""

Read the whole thing here.

The story also contained responses from "educators" who said that test scores should not be the sole criterion to judge teachers' performance.

The implicit economics in this claim is this: teachers have to perform many different tasks and their efforts in most cases are difficult to evaluate. So by linking incentives to test scores alone, a relatively good indicator of teachers' efforts and their effectiveness, this claim implies that less efforts will be allocated to those other tasks to the detriment of students.

Will this happen? If efforts and their effectiveness are so difficult to measure in those other tasks (inspiring students say), how can we be so sure that teachers will not slack on those other tasks in the first place before the introduction of the pay for performance scheme? Now that with the incentive scheme, at least we will be quite damn sure that more efforts will be put in those tasks that will improve students' test scores.

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