"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Friday, March 8, 2013

"I Think We All Love Teachers"

As I read an article by Angela Minnici and Ellen Behrstock-Sherratt in Education Week, "Making Teacher Evaluation a Launch Pad for Growth", I could not help but be mesmerized when I got to this sentence. It was during one of the 2012 US Presidential debates that moderator Bob Schieffer closed with this quite memorable sentence. This sentence is second only to the most tweeted phrase in that debate, "Fewer Horses and Bayonets":
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Teachers are indeed important factors in the success of schools. With the dependence of learning outcomes on teacher effectiveness, push for ratings and evaluations of teachers are on the rise. Schools are about to be treated like factories in which workers are provided incentives such as bonuses supposedly to enhance their performance. If we do "love our teachers", an evaluation of their performance must first and foremost be sincere in its true purpose. Useful evaluations must help teachers improve. The evaluation must be fair. It must be informative. It must be helpful to be meaningful. For these reasons, teacher evaluations require careful and thoughtful planning and studies. Using the wrong indicators or measures, and not involving the teachers in the process of constructing evaluation systems is definitely a step in the wrong direction. Angela Minnici and Ellen Behrstock-Sherratt wrote in their Education Week article:
Improving professional-learning opportunities for teachers, while better than the status quo, is necessary but insufficient. New-teacher induction, stronger leadership, better pay, safe and supportive working conditions, more relevant preparation programs, opportunities to lead new projects and initiatives away from the classroom, and more manageable workloads are needed to attract talented people to teaching. Anything less will continue to deprofessionalize teaching.
Indeed, the list of things that need to be done to improve teaching appears long. But there is really no short cut. Drawing a fair and helpful teaching evaluation system is already a formidable task. And on this specific endeavor, cutting corners may do more harm than good. The National Comprehensive  Center for Teacher Quality provides an example of an evaluation system that is currently implemented experimentally in the District of Columbia. It is called IMPACT. This evaluation system has been recently reviewed by experts (The review can be downloaded from here).

The following is a brief description of IMPACT (copied from the District of Columbia Public Schools Website):

How Does IMPACT Work?

IMPACT ratings for teachers are based on the following:
  1. Student Achievement – We believe that a teacher’s most important responsibility is to ensure that her or his students learn and grow. This is why we hold educators accountable for the growth their students make on our state assessment, the DC CAS, or on other assessments if they don’t teach a DC CAS grade or subject.
  1. Instructional Expertise – This is assessed through five observations – four formal and one informal – each year. Three observations are conducted by teachers’ administrators and two are conducted by independent, expert practitioners called master educators. Feedback and guidance for growth are provided in post-observation conferences and written reports.
  1. Collaboration – Education is very much a team effort, which is why IMPACT also measures the extent to which educators work together on behalf of students.
  1. Professionalism – Teachers are also held accountable for key professional requirements, including following all school policies and procedures, and interacting with colleagues, students, families, and community members in a respectful manner.


The first item alone, "student achievement", may look simple, but these are not just the scores of students in a standardized exam. This measure does take into account scores in the District of Columbia's Comprehensive Assessment System (CAS), but the scores of students are corrected so that the effects of a student's background and prior skills are removed. This involves an elaborate statistical modeling that then extracts the impact of the teacher on the student's performance. Part of "Student Achievement" is Teacher Assessed Student Achievement Data. This measurement allows the teacher to set his or her own goals for a class. Although designed by the teachers themselves, these must align to content standards and must be approved by the school administration. The process in a way ensures that the teachers themselves are very much aware of what the goals are. This is an important ingredient for any evaluation to be useful. There should be no surprises in what metrics are used. Indicators can not be defined after the time period during which such measures are made. Teachers need to know before a school year how they are going to be evaluated at the end. IMPACT also demonstrates how teachers become active participants in designing the evaluation systems. And this is just one of the four items. Evaluation is indeed a lot of work.

On the other hand, what DepEd has done with its new Performance Based Bonus scheme for teachers is an excellent example of what not to do. (Please read a previous post in this blog, "Performance Based Bonus: Measuring Schools") I reiterate the paragraph I quoted above to drive hopefully a very important point:
Improving professional-learning opportunities for teachers, while better than the status quo, is necessary but insufficient. New-teacher induction, stronger leadership, better pay, safe and supportive working conditions, more relevant preparation programs, opportunities to lead new projects and initiatives away from the classroom, and more manageable workloads are needed to attract talented people to teaching. Anything less will continue to deprofessionalize teaching.
"I Think We All Love Teachers", and the proof lies in what we actually do. Do the public school teachers in the Philippines feel loved? The following photos tell the story:

Photos downloaded from ACT Philippines Facebook page


  1. I think the DC program is great. but (and this is important), we have to acknowledge the differences between implementing a program in DC with 81,000 students (with all the advantages of the US govt) and implementing a program in a developing country like the philippines with 20Million students. the same DC program is quite frankly infeasible.

    does this mean we should give up on incentive programs? no. but moving forward, the philippines program can be modified to reflect further realities.

    there is a further difference between the US program and the philippine program, which may be a good or bad thing depending on your view point.

    in IMPACT, poor performing teachers can get fired. this is good from an efficiency POV. the philippines however does NOT have this feature for good reasons that you have already identified.

  2. Defining the criteria before a school year begins and not at its end is not feasible in the Philippines? That is such a lame excuse for poor management.

  3. "Defining the criteria before a school year begins and not at its end " what do u mean?

    what i meant is that the adjustment for the teacher incentives is GOOD, but difficult to implement in the philippine context.

  4. The performance based bonus guidelines were made by DepEd near the end of last month. The school year is almost over. One does not need to copy exactly everything, but one must, at least take some of the important principles like letting teachers know before the school year how they are going to be evaluated and allowing teachers to participate in formulating the evaluation scheme.

  5. as i understand it, there was a period of consultation. but u seem to have a line to the ACT people, so r u saying Rep. Tinio wasnt consulted?

    also, what does consultation mean? the IMPACT group consulted with education research groups and NGOs that have been studying this issue. Notably, teachers unions HATE PBB... its is EASY to find stories where teachers complain about it.


    this is to be expected.

    again, i note the difference between the US case and the Philippines: you dont get fired in the Philippines. It can only help you, not hurt you.

  6. if teachers see evidence of cheating, teachers are empowered to do this on their own. the police ought to get involved. the deped should help informers to share what they know, prosecute cheaters.

    none of these are deal breakers. but it does underscore the fact that enforcement needs to be stepped up in response to pressures to cheat.

  7. We both note the differences that suit our argument. You are obviously fixated at the ability to fire teachers. You are also focusing on the fact that since there are no punitive measures, the bonus only helps and not hurts. These differences are valid if one ignores the other major differences.

    As a starter, imagine a child who is afforded three healthy meals a day. Desserts and snacks may be viewed as bonuses. If a child does not get this, then it may be viewed as not punitive. But consider a child who is malnourished and not provided the necessary meals, not being provided desserts or snacks is punitive in this case.

    So, here are the other very important differences:

    Some Washington DC public school teachers receive an annual salary in six digits (more than $100,000 a year). The contract in which IMPACT is part was put into a vote, with 80 percent of DC teachers approving it.

    There are other major differences and yes, money is a big difference. It is true that the Philippines cannot copy this and it is not expected. What is important here to reflect upon is the attention and respect given to teachers. That is the main point of the article. IMPACT is NOT only about evaluating and firing teachers. It is about getting helpful information so that teachers can be helped. IMPACT does not end with bonuses. It is true that those who are ranked lowest are terminated. But the majority of those who are rated not effective are provided assistance. The evaluation is meant to inform, not just to reward or punish. These are the themes that the Philippines can copy and should copy.

  8. you raise good points. i add:

    1a) " But the majority of those who are rated not effective are provided assistance" -- the reason this is the case is because IMPACT will weed out (fire) the lowest performing teachers. to make this palatable, there must be an effort by the program to aid teachers who need it.

    1b) connected to that, there are teacher trainings that are available to phil. teachers. it wasnt included in IMPACT because, again, the phil program isnt punitive. that does not mean there are no opportunites for teachers to improve professionally. that would be factually incorrect.

    2) i'm not sure what to say about comparing teachers to starving children. i guess u mean to say that in this environment where funds/resources are lacking, no one should get anything? i'm not sure i understand the implications of what you want to say. or, perhaps, i fear the implications of your argument. If there is not enough money, we should choose not to do anything unless everyone benefits equally?

    OR, its better to starve than have some children get something? its better we all starve together? medyo malabo. feel free to explain your starving children analogy in a blogpost.

  9. It takes someone who works as a teacher and at at the same time, unable to make ends meet to see the analogy. Salary upgrading should be first priority and yes, this is across the board before one could even begin imagining an incentive system. That is what the analogy means.

  10. right, so in your opinion, its better to everyone get a small amount of increase, than some to get more and others less?

    is this accurate?

  11. also, just curious -- what salary is enough? perhaps if you can put in concrete numbers, we can achieve agreement.

  12. Read this, http://philbasiceducation.blogspot.com/2012/07/depeds-k-to-12-misses-real-difference.html

    This will help you see where teachers' salaries in the Philippines currently stand. ACT is asking for an upgrade to about 25000 pesos per month. This is still lower than the salary in Malaysia, but will at least move the Philippines away from being one of the lowest in the world. If the Philippines desires to abide by international standards then this is one important area where the Philippines must do something. The numbers from OECD in the above post are for the year 2009. Countries like Mexico have upgraded teachers' salaries - more recent numbers can be found in http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/download/9612041ec026.pdf?expires=1362880607&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=0A84A33777FB7F52656BCEC6A4787436

    Yes, Indonesia is still much lower than that of the Philippines, but the Philippines should not be copying Indonesia since Indonesia like the Philippines is at the bottom of international standardized exams.

  13. Yes, The Philippine government must exhaust first what it can provide to upgrade salaries across the board before making incentives.With very low salaries that could hardly support a family, not receiving an incentive is punitive.

  14. why compare internationally? the first test ought to be feasibility locally. the deped already has the larger share. 250B, roughly. salaries are already 70-80%. an increase to 25000 is a 25% increase in PS costs, approx. so the total PS budget will rise to 213B from 175B, or an increase of approx 38B.

    where will this money come from?

  15. how do u know they can hardly support a family? doesnt this depend on 1) where u live, 2) family size?

  16. The cost of adding two years at the end of high school is so much higher than 38 billion pesos. Priorities, that is where the solution lies, First things first.

  17. That is why the salaries are compared using PPP values so that one is not comparing apples with oranges. The annual figure of $11000 for Philippine teacher salaries takes this into account. How much do you make in a year?

  18. uhm, the K+12 has budgeted an increase in infrastructure and the number of teachers, both of which are also lacking.

    i guess what i'm saying is this: it is EASY to say that teachers should be paid more. what is necessary is to put forth a plan for an alternate division of limitted resources, and a JUSTIFICATION of why this alternate plan is better.

  19. again, international comparisons are beside the point.

    the point is what the philippine govt can afford to pay out, while at the same time, allocating some on infra and increasing number of teachers; esp when 80% of its current budget is already spent on salaries.

    di ba?

    furthermore, apart from salaries, standard of living depends on where u live, where the cost of living is cheaper, and how big ur family is. if you have 5 children, then yes, you will live in poverty with a single salaried parent with 18k.

  20. DepEd Budget (292) versus Special Purpose Fund (317)


  21. well, the SPFs augment the dept budgets (not just educ -- so comparing 317 to 292 is misleading).

    check this out:


    the SPFs are to be spent on specific items.

    making the budget more responsive and development oriented preoccupies the minds of many. http://www2.adb.org/Documents/Produced-Under-TA/41060/41060-PHI-DPTA.pdf

    but, moving away from this a bit, one decison we have to figure out is why a plan to raise salaries for all by some amount is BETTER than a performance based increase?

    what is the philosophy/argument/logic here? If you raise salaries for all, what would u gain in terms of better outcomes in education, Vs doing a performance based incentive pay scheme, where some gains more than others?

    moreover, this argument has to confront/surmount the literature that you have been citing regarding the benefits of performance based pay.

  22. Please do not incorrectly cite this blog. I have not cited any literature that shows benefits of performance based pay. There is only one post that I remember in this blog that cites a study relating bonus with performance. And this one was different - the bonus was given at the beginning of the school year and teachers stood to lose it if the learning outcome did not improve - showing that loss aversion is a stronger psychological factor on performance. But even this study has to be treated carefully. The posts in this blog emphasize giving teachers just salaries, not bonuses.

  23. i think you also cited the gates' foundation findings? they are a strong proponent of incentive based pay.

    so, you accept the findings of education lit EXCEPT for incentive based salaries? again, why reject that, and accept other findings?

  24. The Gates Finding studies that I cite in the blog look at assessment or evaluation methods for teaching. Please take note of the huge difference between the evaluation exercise and incentive based pay. Evaluations are meant, first and foremost, to inform so that the teacher may improve. That is why the evaluation methods must include observations of teachers. There is no research out there that has been done to see if incentives pay correlate with better learning outcomes. The Gates Foundation studies are about correlating their evaluation methods with learning outcomes. Please take note of this very important point. To say otherwise is incorrectly characterizing these studies. IMPACT is the only one that has been implemented so far, but its effects on learning outcomes are still being questioned.

  25. To see this issue a lot clearer, it really requires seeing what teachers actually do and why teachers choose to become teachers. The biggest reward a teacher can ever receive is a student learning and reaching his or her potential. Whether teachers get a bonus or not, no study has shown that this has an impact on a teacher's performance. What teachers need are the resources and time to do their job. Salaries are important since sufficient earnings allow teachers to support their families and enables them to dedicate all their efforts and time towards teaching. Learning resources are important - because these help teachers do their job. A teacher's objective is clear - to help students learn. Adequate salaries are necessary so that teachers do not have to worry or spend their time in other jobs just to make ends meet. The school is not a factory, it is not a 9 to 5 job. A teacher does a lot of homework outside the classroom. And all of these, a teacher does, not for the money, but for helping students learn. Have some respect for teachers.

  26. i dont know about what you cite, but its clear that the gates foundation research is supportive of incentives for teachers.

    so, why select the research you want, while ignoring others?

  27. I do not think we are talking in the same wavelength here. I am a scientist so when I use "research", I mean evidence from experiments. It is not the same as advocacy. I cited a research study that was funded by the Gates' Foundation that showed that it was possible to formulate a teaching evaluation method that correlates with student performance. That is the study that I cited. Just because I cited that study does not imply that I agree with what the Gates Foundation advocates. I simply cited the correlation they obtained between teaching evaluation and student performance. Make sure that is clear in your head - the study has nothing to do with incentive pay, the study was about checking if they can arrive at an evaluation method that parallels student performance. No bonus was given to teachers in this study. You are incorrectly characterizing what I do.

  28. If you disagree with some of results of the education research and agree with others, you should explain why.

    by "research", i mean the scientific consensus -- it is not a stretch to assume that people understand what the consensus, esp people who seek to opine about education!

  29. There are no results in the education research that I disagree with. Why do you make up things? There is no research out there that looks at how incentives correlate with teacher performance. In fact, the current scientific consensus is that these two are NOT correlated. Do not make up things.