Today someone queried my assertion that there is a lot of research confirming the detrimental effects of performance pay. The challenge seemed to be that volume of research does not equate to good research. That’s a good point, and I think the person that made it is in a position to know it is true.
So, for anyone wanting to check out some of the research for themselves (which is always a good plan – you shouldn’t take my word or anyone else’s word for anything) here are some links to research and reports to start you off, along with some quotes to give you food for thought.
Credentials Versus Performance: Review of the Teacher Performance Pay Research, by Michael Podgursky, Department of Economics, University of Missouri–Columbia, and Matthew G. Springer, Department of Leadership Policy, and Organizations, Peabody College of Vanderbilt University (2007) – This research argues that performance pay may be a positive move, but the researchers state they have not outlined what that would look like or how it would work, and they suggest field trials and more research on this.
“We find that financial incentives may indeed reduce intrinsic motivation and diminish ethical or other reasons for complying with workplace social norms such as fairness. As a consequence, the provision of incentives can result in a negative impact on overall performance.”
London School of Economics
“…in light of a study that found the bonuses had no positive effect on either student performance or teachers’ attitudes toward their jobs.”
“We tested the most basic and foundational question related to performance incentives — “Does bonus pay alone improve student outcomes?” – and we found that it does not,”
Matthew Springer, executive director of the National Center on Performance Incentives.
“Rewarding teachers with bonus pay, in the absence of any other support programs, does not raise student test scores”
National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody
College of Education and Human Development in partnership with the RAND Corporation.
Academic evidence has increasingly mounted indicating that performance related pay leads to the opposite of the desired outcomes when it is applied to any work involving cognitive rather than physical skill. Research funded by the Federal Reserve Bank undertaken at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with input from professors from the University of Chicago and Carnegie Mellon University repeatedly demonstrated that as long as the tasks being undertaken are purely mechanical performance related pay works as expected. However once rudimentary cognitive skills are required it actually leads to poorer performance. These experiments have since been repeated by a range of economists…
Pay-for-Performance (Federal Government) – Wikipedia
“…mixed findings underscore the challenge of designing a system of teachers’ compensation that rewards quality in a fair and equitable manner”
(Note this research deemed success to be raised test scores in maths and English, which raises the question of whether merit pay led to teaching to the test or whether things really improved for the students’ education as a whole)
TEACHER INCENTIVES AND STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT: EVIDENCE FROM NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS
“Financial incentives for teachers to increase student performance is an increasingly popular education policy around the world. This paper describes a school-based randomized trial in over two-hundred New York City public schools designed to better understand the impact of teacher incentives on student achievement. I find no evidence that teacher incentives increase student performance, attendance, or graduation, nor do I find any evidence that the incentives change student or teacher behavior. If anything, teacher incentives may decrease student achievement, especially in larger schools. The paper concludes with a speculative discussion of theories that may explain these stark results.”
Again, feel free to add links to other research in the comments below, so we can read, ponder and learn more.
If you DO NOT support performance pay for teachers, please sign this petition to Hekia Parata.
She says teachers are in favour of it. If we are not, we need to make sure she is very clear that isn’t the case. It will also serve to inform the wider public that teachers do not want performance pay as it is detrimental to the very teamwork and best practice we need to do our jobs well.
Yesterday on Q+A, Hekia Parata deftly implied that the teacher unions and, by implication, the teachers, are totally on board with performance pay. Not just on board, but helping sort out how it will go ahead.
Some of us suspected this was smoke and mirrors, the ole Hekia misdirection that we are so familiar with. So I did what any sensible person should. I asked the unions themselves. And the opposition parties, too. I asked them, “Are you in favour of performance pay for teachers?”
Here are the responses I have had so far, and the tell quite a different story to Hekia’s:
PPTA referred a member to this document and also Tweeted me via PPTAWeb to say:
PPTA do not support performance pay.
NZEI have not sent an official response, but individual reps responded to say:
NZEI does not support competition between schools or teachers. PUM’s are being held in the next couple of weeks. Expect a statement AFTER members have BEEN consulted.
Metiria Turei of the Green Party messaged me to state:
We are opposed to performance pay. All teachers should be priority rewarded for their skills and experience.
Chris Hipkins (Labour) Tweeted me to confirm:
Labour does not support basing teacher pay on student achievement. It’s no measure of ‘performance’
Chris Hipkins replied in more detail to my query on Facebook:
Labour is opposed to paying teachers based on student achievement, which is no true measure of ‘performance’. I object to the whole term ‘performance pay’ because it inevitably leads to pointless arguments about how to tell a good teacher from a poor one, when really we should be focused on how we support all teachers to be great teachers (quality professional development, great initial teacher training, better appraisal systems etc).
No word yet from NZPF. I will update you as soon as I hear from them.
Meanwhile, make sure your union rep, your MP, your principal, and your local newspaper all know that teachers do not want performance pay because it adversely affects their performance and will therefore be TO THE DETRIMENT OF THE STUDENTS.
During Hekia Parata’s interview on Q+A today, Corrin Dann asks “Will National go to a full performance pay scheme in the future?”
Hekia answers (at 11.12 of video) “We already have very strong consensus from the teacher unions as well as the profession, they are on the working group, recommending the design features for this. We are very focussed on getting this implemented from 2015 and fully implemented by 2017″
Is she refusing to answer the question posted there, and actually continuing to talk about the new ‘super’ roles, or did she really just imply the unions are on board with performance pay? Because those are two very different things.
So, because she wasn’t clear, I need to check…
Because there is a loud voice from teachers that they do NOT want this. And with good reason backed by much research.
Is Hekia avoiding, evading, stretching facts, fibbing, or telling the truth?
We really do need to know.
Oh, well that’s easy enough – because it doesn’t work. In fact, it is counter-productive. There, that’s that done.
Wait! What? You want more? Dagnabbit, will I never get to my chores? Okay here goes…
HERE ARE THE MAIN PROBLEMS
– Performance pay creates barriers to teamwork and creativity – both absolutely essential in teaching.
– Performance pay is difficult to measure – faulty systems for judging who is/is not a good teacher are very destructive.
– Performance pay takes no account of factors outside the control of the teacher.
– Performance pay motivates employees to focus only on doing what they need to do to gain the rewards, at the expense of doing other things that would help their students, the school, and the system as a whole.
– Performance pay is a barrier to teamwork and collegiality, meaning teachers are less likely to ask for help or share best practice.
– Performance pay has a destructive effect on intrinsic motivation.
– Performance pay has negative effects on workers’ self-esteem.
In other words, it stands in the way of the very things schools need to work well.
BUT WHY DOES PP NOT MOTIVATE?
This fabulous video will explain precisely why performance pay is not a good motivator. Watch it, it’s fun as well as informative:
So there you are – people are motivated to do what they enjoy, what they know will make a difference. Performance pay is not the way to go.
WHAT WOULD WORK BETTER THAN THE CARROT AND STICK APPROACH?
What would work better is respect for and trust in the teachers, listening to them, discussing with them how schools can improve, using their expertise to make things better than they are.
In other words
– no carrot,
– no stick,
– but instead, more of a bring-a-plate pot luck dinner, where we all share our best dishes.
Like we tell our students – teamwork and co-operation are great things.
In the new teacher and principal roles announced this week, the Key Government is reinforcing its education policy direction through a new mode of control, a new financial incentive to those who will promulgate its messages and through divide and rule of an ‘un-cooperative’ teaching force. The new roles will have different impacts in primary and secondary schools but it is in primary schools where they will be particularly horrendous. This is because of the small size and organisation of primary schools and because these schools will now face greater pressure to embrace unwanted and damaging reforms in this area such as the National Standards.
There are to be four new roles. There are ‘lead teachers’ (10% of teachers paid an extra $10,000 a year), ‘expert teachers’ (2% of teachers paid an extra $20,000 per year) and ‘executive principals’ (about 250 of them paid an extra $40,000 per year).
These are all ‘super’ roles in the sense that those who take them up will be required to work across other schools as well as their own, indeed the executive principals and expert teachers will only be back in their own schools three days a week. It seems to be the plan that there will be enough of these new roles to cover the system as a whole. For instance if 250 executive principals are supervising around ten schools each, this would cover the approximately 2500 schools in New Zealand.
The fourth category is the ‘change principals’ one. These are to be in a full-time role (about 20 of them paid an extra $50,000 per year). This is a ‘super’ role in a different sense, paid more to apply to be principal of a troubled school but ‘super’ in the sense of being expected to turn that school around quickly.
The new super roles are clever politics because they have been presented as a new investment in the sector. This line has been swallowed by most commentators and even by some of the teacher organisations, at least initially. For instance well-known political commentator Bryce Edwards described it as ‘National’s super-smart step to the left’. But no one should imagine the latest reform represents the leopard changing its spots. It is not a move to the left because the politics of the super roles are managerial rather than redistributive.
None of the $359 million to be spent over the next four years around the new roles will go into new resources for schools such as extra teachers or teacher aides or even into general programmes of quality professional development for existing teachers and principals where it could have done great good. Instead the money will mainly go towards lining the pockets of those teachers and principals who are willing to be selected for and prepared for the new super roles and then willing to take them up.
Within the sector, Principals’ Federation President Phil Harding welcomed the proposals as enhancing ‘collaboration between schools’. But the problem is that the new collaborative arrangements between schools will certainly be intended to be of a required ‘on-message’ kind rather than more organic and genuine. The brief for the super roles are likely to require close adherence to Government perspectives, policies and targets and this is what those in the super-roles will then be driving into the classrooms and schools of those allocated to work with them. The new roles would be less of a problem if current education policies were more favourable. But the practices that those in the super roles will have to insist on will continue to be deeply flawed in both educational and social justice terms.
For those working under executive principals or expert teachers it may become something like having an ERO reviewer popping into the school on a regular basis and insisting on adherence to government policy rather than every few years as they tend to now. In fact under these reforms ERO might as well be disbanded: the people in the super roles will effectively be doing much of their work apart from the reporting to the public.
The relationships between school staff will become much less cohesive and trusting as the new roles are developed amidst resentment from colleagues. This resentment will be about problems such as who gets the roles, who seems to be hardly involved in the school these days, and who is intruding on successful practice in a particular setting. Ironically, the day before the release of the policy I was telling a teacher conference in Wellington how important collaborative staff relations had been to the six primary schools I have been studying over the last three years (the RAINS project).
The super roles proposal is also remarkably naïve about the impact of the different contexts and historical trajectories of schools. It is not that a skilled and knowledgeable teacher or principal couldn’t go into another school or classroom and help, but to get it right this involvement would need to be in the spirit that there would be much to learn and of needing to be slow to comment or judge because schools and classrooms are so different and the differences need to be properly understood in order to provide good advice. This is not at all the model anticipated by the new super roles.
So what will happen now? The new super roles represent deeply cynical politics because well-meaning teachers and principals committed to public education are
going to be bribed to undo it and they will often feel no option but to take up the offer.
Apart from the extra salary, the new super roles will become the markers of career progression, whether one takes up such a role or is looking for a job reference from the super role person to whom they are reporting. Even highly ethical teachers and principals may feel under pressure to take up executive, expert and lead positions on the grounds that if they don’t, unknown (and/or possibly unrespected) others certainly will. Better to take up the role than be working under someone else where you and the children in your care might no longer be as safe.
Actually, teachers and principals who want the best for the children will be damned if they do and damned if they don’t. My advice is not to be first cab off the rank and to be very clear about what the super roles will involve before expressing any enthusiasm and signing up. In the meantime the teacher organisations have a lot of work to do to mediate the worst effects of yet another bad education policy from this Government, its most destructive so far.
Over the longer term, when the substantial money going into the super roles doesn’t bring the intended improvement in PISA achievement (as it surely won’t, most of the problems are outside of the control of schools), the stage will become set for the further privatisation of our ‘failing’ school system. But as I told the conference in Wellington this week, I intend fighting for public education until my dying breath. This is because it is only a public education system that holds the promise of delivering a high quality education to all New Zealand families, regardless of how rich or poor they are.
NZEI Te Riu Roa will be participating in the Minister’s working group on the $359 million initiative to ensure there is fairness and transparency for members and the best outcomes for children and their learning.
Members will be fully engaged in ways similar to collective negotiation processes to ensure robust negotiations around the creation of the roles and allowances proposed.
NZEI will not accept students’ National Standards outcomes as criteria for selecting or reviewing the performance of either “expert” or “lead” teachers or “executive” or “change” principal roles.
Is this what we have come to? In 2013 people worldwide are fighting to claim back a child’s right to a decent education.
Big business has taken over.
They saw dollar signs and little by little snuck in, a charter schools here, standardised testing there, rigid curricula and resource requirements forcing schools to buy only from certain companies.
And before you know it schools are about making money for corporations, not about a well-rounded and proper education for our children.
America has seen the worst, with 20 years or more of this.
If we want to stop this taking hold in New Zealand, if we want to prevent this disaster down the (short) road, then we all need to speak up now.
We want to improve out schools by making them better for our kids, not by making them into businesses for the few.
Parents – Students – Teachers – Time to start speaking up.
This is an interesting comment on the perils of using business models in education – from Diane Ravitch’s most excellent blog (which you should go and bookmark right now):
“Having spent years in business, I cringe at blindly applying business models to education. 360 evaluation is a business fad that will join MBOs and matrix management. I tried student evaluations. Students are usually upset over not getting a certain grade on the most recent test, angry over a detention, or at the other extreme, like the teacher and don’t want to say anything negative. I eavesdropped on two of my high school students evaluating their teachers and a “good” teacher had more to do with being lenient, funny, and good looking. It took me years to later appreciate my good teachers – not at the time the most popular. Most parents mean well, but often have only glimpses of the classroom from their child’s perspective. Often the truth is difficult and not always well received. Peers are OK, but not all peers are objective or can separate politics. Administrators may not have spent enough years in a math or language arts classroom – perhaps moving up through phys ed – to understand content and delivery. Third party evaluations are too disconnected and have conflicts of interest.
So a better solution? First, and this principle is also overlooked in business, IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT. Not all schools are failing, and then, not all for the same reason. Blanket, scorched earth solutions never work and just replace one set of problems with another. Improving upon what exists takes skill and savvy. Second, if you want to know what makes a good teacher, ask a good teacher. We all know who they are. Mentoring is by far the best system with centuries of success. Make it work. Third, start listening to teachers, not politicians, billionaires, and opportunists. The latter have other interests. Teachers, in contrast to the constant demonizing, are in the classroom everyday and want their students to learn.
The best approach to education is there is no single approach to education. Students are individuals and human. Not data points in a multi-level statistical model. Teachers know this. Will anybody else listen?”
A comment on the post about “Zombie Education Policies”:
Having spent years in business, I cringe at blindly applying business models to education. 360 evaluation is a business fad that will join MBOs and matrix management. I tried student evaluations. Students are usually upset over not getting a certain grade on the most recent test, angry over a detention, or at the other extreme, like the teacher and don’t want to say anything negative. I eavesdropped on two of my high school students evaluating their teachers and a “good” teacher had more to do with being lenient, funny, and good looking. It took me years to later appreciate my good teachers – not at the time the most popular. Most parents mean well, but often have only glimpses of the classroom from their child’s perspective. Often the truth is difficult and not always well received. Peers are OK, but not…
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“Pay rises for all from an ever-decreasing pot is unsustainable and this policy allows Headteachers to find a way to survive during austerity by making relatively arbitrary decisions about pay progression so that schools remain solvent. This year I am expected to provide a better education for the same number of children as we had in our school in 2010 with £450,000 less in funding.
They are mighty pigged off, that’s why.
This Saturday, 13th April, thousands of teachers, parents, students and other supporters up and down New Zealand will march to protest some very disconcerting things that are afoot in GodZone.
What are we protesting? Well I’m glad you asked.
Charter schools: The government is hell bent on bringing in charter schools despite massive resistance and rafts of evidence that they just do not improve achievement, least of all for minority groups. They are pushing an ideology that will privatise public schools. No amount of questioning elicits from the government or Catherine Isaac any answers on just how charters will improve anything.
They have no answers – there are no answers. The evidence is very firmly against them.
Community involvement is not guaranteed in charter schools (goodbye BOT), teachers can be untrained, money paid to run the schools can be skimmed off as profit. That’s your tax $$$ going not to resources of trained staff or even to pay for the building – just taken out as profit by the business owner. Nice.
The largest study of charter schools, by CREDO, showed that 47% of children did worse in the charter than in the local public school. Only 17% did better. Is that worth the cost, both financially and to communities? I think not.
National Standards and Testing: Teachers test all the time – we have to, to know where kids are and where to take them next. Tests are best if acted on speedily by the teacher, to inform their practice. National standards do nothing to inform teachers – indeed they eat up time best spent teaching or doing more useful testing. National Standards do not look at the progress a child has (or has not) made, it merely pegs them against a standard that has been deemed to be about right for their age. This is of no use to the child, to the parents, or to the teacher. Each student is different – what matters most is not where they are in relation to their peers but how they are progressing.
Add to this the growing and very real concerns that the tests used to determine students’ levels are faulty and are giving inflated results, and we have a huge, huge problem.
Teachers’ Pay and Conditions: You might think this is about Novopay; it’s not. The Secretary of Education wants authority to change teachers’ pay and work conditions without consultation. Like you turning up to work and finding your contract had been rewritten and there’s nothing you can do about it. Nice eh? Why would the SoE want to do that, you ask? Most likely so that performance pay can be brought in.
Performance pay is an anathema to teaching. By its very nature, teaching is collaborative, it means working in a team to get the best for the students. The minute performance pay rears its head, that begins to change. Why share your resources with someone who just got a pay rise when you got none? Why agree to have more than your fair share of the trickier students if it might impact your wages? Where it has been implemented, abroad, it has lead to some desperate teachers exaggerating test scores, and so on. It’s human nature, and has been documented widely by many reliable researchers, including those at the OECD. We just don’t want that. We want to continue working together as a team within our school and with other schools in the wider community for the kids.
Christchurch school closures and mergers: The schools in Christchurch just did not get a fair hearing. Information was and still is being withheld by the authorities, preventing schools from being able to put up accurate arguments against the proposals. Dame Beverley Wakem has deemed the Christchurch schools closures and mergers consultation process to be questionable enough to warrant an investigation. No-one is arguing nothing needed to change post-quake. But even schools with growing roles and good quality buildings and sites have been earmarked to go. It makes no sense.
Christchurch has been bullied, there is no other term for it. And teachers do not like bullies.
It’s time to say NO.
It’s time to insist it remains about the children and not about ideology.
It’s time to demand that changes are research based and not done on the whim of a one-man political party.
It’s time to include community MORE in schools, not less.
Join us – come and show your support.
Read the rest – it’s worth it.
Better still, follow Christine’s blog and keep up the excellent things she shares. Again, very worthwhile.
featured in The Washington Post’s The Answer Sheet
I applaud the resolution of educators such as Gerald J. Conti and Kris L. Nielsen, for publicly deciding to remove themselves from the classroom, especially because they have used their dissent as a platform to spread awareness about current issues in America’s education reform. If you haven’t come across their widely-read letters of resignation, you can find them here and here, respectively, and they are worth the read. After having spent the past month in Finland, however, gaining new insights from the Finnish education system and having the freedom of time to reflect on my own experiences as a teacher in New York, I have a different kind of letter. Call it my Letter of Resolution. I wrote it because I have had enough. I can’t handle any more top-down; I am ready for some bottom-up. I hope you will join…
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This is one of those great moments where you are so glad someone with a high profile gets to smackdown idiot reporters…
Now all we need is someone high profile in New Zealand to start shouting for sane education policies here …
Some will be worrying that there will be no school to even return to, not least of all those in Christchurch who are facing mergers and closures, and the wonderful special needs staff at Salisbury School who are still fighting valiantly to keep their residential school open.
People all over the country will be writing submissions to parliament to prevent these closures. Parents who are worried for their children, teachers, principals and teacher aides whoa re concerned for their students. Kiwis concerned for their communities.
Anyone who has been following the rise of charter schools (or partnership Schools as they have been re-branded here) will be reading the Education Amendment Bill and making submissions about that, too, concerned for the devaluation of our education system by putting profits before people.
Many school staff will be worrying that they won’t be paid and that their break will be ruined by money worries and fighting bureaucracy. It’s bad enough being paid wrongly (or not at all) in term time, but school staff know that they will have real trouble getting pay woes sorted curing the break when school administration staff are on their holidays. That means stressed and worried teachers, teacher aides, caretakers, admin staff, and more, all at the one time of year when a rest is paramount to fire up for another big year.
Fast-Track Teacher Training
We will return to the first batch of teachers trained on a six-week intensive course, arriving in the classroom to learn on-the-job with the bare minimum in pedagogical knowledge and less still in classroom experience. We will be watching and waiting to see how that pans out for the trainees, the mentors and the students.
And as always at this time of year, many are worrying about finding a job because they were on short term contracts. Some will leave the profession – others will take their skills overseas.
And the rest…
Add to that league tables, National Standards, class sizes, performance pay, property searches, hungry students… the list goes on.
Yes,t his summer, teachers will be doing more than eating pavlova on the beach, planning and setting up their classrooms.
They will be worrying about the future of public education in New Zealand
and hoping that it’s not too late to stop the rot.
What is Labour promising to do for education if elected in 2014…
“The approach to education will change.
I started my working life as a teacher. So I have an appreciation of the valuable job teachers do.
And I know a gimmick when I see one.
Bigger classes, unqualified teachers, charter schools and performance pay will achieve nothing.
The intelligent approach, the one I will follow is the one that asks: what will it take to make this education system the best in the world?
Our teachers are demoralised. Yet we all know they are critical to equipping our kids for the modern world.
We know too that shutting schools in Christchurch destroys communities and causes heartache for already distressed families.
I went to a public meeting there after receiving a moving letter from Christchurch mum Sonya Boyd. She’s devastated that her local school will close and is worried about the impact on her son Ben, his friends and in fact the whole community.
At that meeting a parent told me: Hekia Parata is doing what 10,000 earthquakes couldn’t do – destroying our school.
I say to the people of Christchurch: we are committed to helping you rebuild your city from the grassroots up – not the Beehive down.
You want, more than anything, to get your lives back, and on your own terms.
It’s time you had a government that stood alongside you.”
“We won’t be taking office to tinker, we’ll be taking office to remake New Zealand.
So I am asking you.
To rise up.
To take a message of hope to New Zealanders.
To fight for our future.
To say loud and clear that there is a better way. There is a Labour way.
We can do it, standing strong together.
We can make the change.
And we’ll do that in 2014.”
For the whole speech, click here.