Paying Teachers for Performance, Term Paper Example

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Term Paper

The rationale behind tying teacher compensation to performance is that this will benefit the students more when teachers are provided with appropriate incentives. Performance based pay can act as an incentive capable of affecting outcomes as much as teacher pay does through the selection mechanism. Selection mechanism includes promotion criteria and teacher remuneration criteria based on performance or skills i.e. high pay for well performing teachers. Moreover performance based remuneration needs to be clearly defined. Existence or lack of competitive market pay will finally be related to teacher’s desires for smaller classes.

The profession’s most vocal detractors and education critics have been lobbying for teachers to be paid on performance. They allege that teachers have become complacent as a result of the tenure system and that they can be motivated by incentive pay. Whereas incentives matter, it would be unfair to assume that teachers are lazy. If rewards of pay are sufficiently high, teachers may be motivated to move in one direction or the other or to even forego some leisure activities. The rational for performance based pay may easily be neglected through overemphasizing the importance of motivational aspect of the incentives. The rationale behind performance based pay revolves around motivativation and selection, which is the major theme of this research.

In my opinion, I postulate that, measuring and defining output in education in regard to teachers’ performance is difficult given the differences in demographic characteristics of students and resource allocations. Also, since output is of a multidimensional nature metric in education is forced to take the form of weighting of several components. It is important to note that incentives matter as much as selection (Lazear, 2002).

In measuring performance pay matters for incentives, we shall take an excerpt from (Lazear, 2002). What is produced is directly linked to performance. A teacher’s or schools performance can be measured in a number of ways. Student test scores is the commonly used measure. Others include, high school completion rates, literacy rates among students of a certain grade level, and the number of those students that make it to college. All these indicate what the student has achieved. Choice of measure of output can affect strategies adopted by a particular school as well as influence public perception towards a school, i.e. whether it is bad or good.

I also suggest that, if literacy among the eighth graders of a particular school is to be the criterion for judging a school, the school in question will attempt to get every pupil to some basic reading level. However, there will be no incentives to help particular pupils excel in reading and neither will the school worry about arithmetic skills because such skills are not measured by standard literacy tests. On the other hand judging a school or a teacher by the proportionate numbers of students graduating from the high school will cause the school to ignore poor students and focus on those who are on the margin of dropping out and staying. Because bright students are unlikely to drop out, they will as well be ignored. Compensating on the basis of the proportion going to Princeton or Harvard would cause the school to focus on the brightest students in class to the disadvantage of the poor and average students.

It is my suggestion that, the right measure of the school performance should be to address how a school is supposed to affect occupational distribution of students or subsequent earnings. The drawback of this measure is the difficulty with which data can be obtained and the very long time lag. The school may have changed its policies several times by the time the students start reporting their earnings.

Supposing a uniform test is used to compare schools performance then the following challenges would ensue. First schools hosting students from affluent families will certainly obtain high scores regardless of how much that school contributes to a student’s education in comparison to other schools in a similar sample. Similarly, test scores are most likely to be influenced by the demographic characteristics of a student’s population. The society is not interested with certificates awarded to attract bright students but rather added value associated with education. Conversely, some schools are better equipped than others in terms of resources at their disposal; hence, educational output will be skewed in to the disadvantage of poorly equipped schools.

I think that, it would therefore be much difficult to attract highly skilled and qualified teachers on a smaller pay pack for a financially challenged school than a school that can afford high wages. By comparing two schools located in a wealthy district, test score differences are likely to be negligible; the trivial difference may be a reflection of differences in performance of the two schools or trivial differences in student characteristics. This leads us to conclude that although accountability is important, it is difficult to implement.

To the best of my understanding, the best solution to the foregoing problems is to allow the students to have more choice. By allowing mobility between different schools, the best indicator for a school performance can be arrived at. For instance if students are shifting from school X to Y, this shows that students value education from Y as opposed to that of X. Despite there being other factors, it is only prudent to conclude that School X is doing a better job than Y in educating its pupils. This mobility showcases votes cast for different schools by students thus compelling teachers to perform or mimic those that are performing well.

A large number of teachers prefer smaller class sizes.  Despite there being evidence refuting educational output as being a direct link with small class size. The teacher’s sentiments are probably as a result of incorrectness of the evidence or the ease with which a small class size is managed. However, teachers do prefer a lighter workload. These arguments are fallacious in a number of ways;

It is wrong to assume that increasing expenditure will solve problem. On the other hand (Hanushek, 1998) refutes the evidence that reducing class size will have any significant change. Catholic schools have been reported by (Hoffer, 1981) to produce better students than public schools despite large class sizes. It is presume that well behaved and brighter students are to be located in large class sizes, young students who are well behaved are placed in smaller class sizes, however, on assessing educational output, and researchers have found evidence showing that large classes are sometimes better than small classes.

The above does not imply that small class sizes do not benefit bright students or increased class size for students with behavior disorders will not have harmful effects, it simply means studies cutting across class sizes will not have such effects. Where as reduced class size is advantageous, such advantages are not universal. However economically disadvantaged children and those with learning disabilities can benefit from small class sizes.

Teacher’s qualities are important in determining educational performance. But it is sad to say that public school teachers are paid better compared to their counter parts in private schools that get paid less despite large class sizes (Lazear, 2000). Teachers might prefer smaller class sizes in that compulsory schooling coupled with a reduction in class size will mean an increased demand for teachers.

Private schools quality of education determines the amount of price they are going to charge. On the other hand, if a public school offers high quality education, the value of land in the area in question increases and the school is unable to take advantage of the resultant revenue meaning it cannot increase its teachers pay. Hence, wages are more responsive to private schools profitability than it is for a public school (Kessel, 1960).

There can be an incentive for both public and private school teachers and administrators who are successful. Promotions and other non monetary benefits can be used to reward teachers who perform well. A well done job can motivate teachers across the board. Incentives to perform in public schools are weaker since wages in public schools are less responsive. It is principally acceptable that the focal point of the classroom from a moralistic perception should be based on intensions. Consequently, virtual should be defined based on efforts rather than achievements (Jencks, 1998).

Selection of right individuals can be facilitated by having a well qualified teacher applicant pool from where hiring and retention process begins. Increasing teachers salaries can attract highly qualified people to the profession thus improving the overall pool of teachers  (Krueger & Dianne, 1999). Other policies would involve replacing poorly performing teachers or moving them around. The governor of California introduced a policy that allows those teachers who agree to teach in poor schools to be given bonuses. Positive sorting is socially efficient because it encourages competition which maximizes social welfare in the absence of externalities. Hence a positive social value is unlikely to be achieved by moving teachers around without changing the nature of the pool. This however can have a redistribution benefit (Mincer & Jovanovic, 1998).  Ogbu argues that the failure recorded in schools should never be attributed to disparities in culture and languages of the students (Ogbu, 1992).

The nature of teacher’s tenure is that they are more protected from layoff than other professions while being under compensated at the same time in relation to performance. The underperforming teachers are least likely to be eliminated from education which is not directly subject to the forces of market competition. This makes the system of tenure less effective in sorting process.

The negative side of tenure is that it is granted too early before teachers have been vetted for properly. A probation period would serve as mitigation by enhancing selection of competitive teachers. It can also help in elimination of low quality teachers who have no where else to go and reduce other mistakes associated with selection.

Pay can be strategically used to select teachers as well as to provide incentives. Choice of metric is not unambiguous from an incentive point of view. Moreover, subjecting teachers to accountability based on a particular standard will make teachers focus on specific students in class resulting into serious distributional consequences.

In attracting a large pool of applicants from which to choose, pay plays a vital role. Techniques like reducing class size have negligible effects in determining educational output making it reasonable to improve educational output by use of cost effective method of allocating more funds towards higher teachers’ salaries. Effectiveness in sorting can be improved by eliminating the tenure completely or by introducing probation to minimize the shortcomings of the system of tenure. By giving a school district substantial amount of time to evaluate teachers, given that worker characteristics and talents are stable overtime can impact positively on the output of education.

References

Hanushek, E. A., (1998). “Conclusions and Controversies about the Effectiveness of School Resources,” Federal Reserve Bank of New York Economic Policy Review, IV.

Mincer, J.       & Jovanovic, B., (1998).  “Labor Mobility and Wages,” Studies in Labor Markets, 21-64.

Jencks C., (1998). Whom Must We Treat Equally for Educational Opportunities to be Equal? Ethics, Vol. 98 No. 3. 518-533. Available at %http://www.jstor.org/stable/2380965,  accessed on 05th December 2011

Krueger, B. & Dianne, M. W., (1999). “The Effect of Attending a Small Class in the Early Grades on College-Test Taking and Middle School Test Results: Evidence from Project Star,” Princeton University.

Lazear,E.P., (2000). “Performance Pay and Productivity,”AmericanEconomic Review.

Ogbu, J.U. (1992). “Understanding Cultural Diversity and Learning” Educational researcher 1992; 21; 5 available at http://edr.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/21/8/5, accessed on 05th Dec. 2011.

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