"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

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

On Salary Hike and Performance Bonuses for Public School Teachers

We pay people for the services they render. When we are pleased with the service we receive, to show our gratitude, we sometimes give tips or bonuses. There is a theory that we may get better service if there is a reward attached to better performance. Somehow, this idea has become prevalent in the teaching profession. Whether this is true or not needs to be addressed in research, in which other factors that contribute to learning outcomes are controlled. Past research has often used for comparison, schools that provide performance bonuses against schools that do not. Such comparison unfortunately is flawed because we are in fact comparing different schools. A better comparison is one that looks at the same school and examines whether teachers being awarded bonuses really lead to better learning outcomes. The answer to the question of whether awards lead to greater student achievement from a recent research study is no.

Dara Shifrer, Ruth L√≥pez Turley, and Holly Heard report in "Do Teacher Financial Awards Improve Teacher Retention and Student Achievement in an Urban Disadvantaged School District?", an article published in the American Educational Research Journal, that "receipt of a financial award did not consistently relate to higher mean student test score gains or teachers’ likelihood of retention." The reason why bonuses do not correlate well with higher student test scores is obvious. There are factors other than the teacher that affect academic outcomes. We already know very well the serious impact poverty has on education. Shifrer and coworkers, however, maintain in their concluding remarks that "Teachers’ financial compensation should reflect the value we ostensibly hold for education and the possibility of social mobility, potentially through higher salaries for teachers working with students who begin school at an academic disadvantage."

"You get what you pay for" may not be the correct expression. What is more appropriate is "You need to pay for what is important". Do teachers really play an important role in society? How important is it? The answer to that question obviously, with all honesty, is reflected in how much we pay teachers in terms of salary.

So, first, are teachers that important? Jennifer Smith at Popsugar has an answer in "What Homeschooling My Kids Made Me Realize About Teachers":

"I walk away from this experience realizing that my kids need:

Outside Authority
In our experience, we realized that our children need the authoritative voice of other adults, particularly teachers. We spend so much time teaching them who to trust and how to listen, but they were only able to put it into practice with us. They weren't learning how to practice it in their daily lives with other people. Teachers serve that purpose — a voice that children learn to listen to — which allows us to simply be Mom and Dad when they come home at the end of the day.
Listening Skills
Naturally, kids want to test their parents, so when you are trying to be both teacher and parent, you blur that line. We realized we spent so much time trying to get them to stop fighting as siblings that when it came time to be their teachers, they didn't want to listen. They wanted to continue to test that boundary.
Time Apart
Quality over quantity. While we love our children, we realized we needed a healthy dose of separation, and so did they. They need to grow independently from us, which allows us
time to miss one another. Now, the time we do have together is valued because it's not constant. We can engage and be present because we aren't all wanting a break from one another.
Character Building
Teachers are trained to bring out specific things in our children, like only a teacher can. As parents we know our children, their personalities, their likes and dislikes. Teachers help them to explore those things further through learning. And a great teacher has the ability to influence your child's life and experiences in a very profound way.
Particularly with all the changes in our lives this past year, our children's teachers have been our partners in making sure they are adjusting and thriving. And after walking in their shoes, I realize I couldn't walk 10 feet in them, much less a mile."

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