Measures of Value Added by Teachers and Schools Have Large Errors

A new report released at the end of July by the National Centre for Education Evaluation, a division of the US Department of Education, has serious implications for Labor and Liberal plans to identify the best performing teachers and schools in Australia and give them cash bonuses.

It shows that a large proportion of the payments could go to the wrong teachers and the wrong schools. Highly performing teachers and schools could be overlooked and average teachers and schools wrongly rated as highly effective. Continue reading “Measures of Value Added by Teachers and Schools Have Large Errors”

Duels of Faith in Teacher Bonuses

This is an abridged version of an Education Research Brief published by Save Our Schools. It can be downloaded below. 

Labor and the Liberals are duelling over teacher bonuses as the “way forward” in education policy. Both will implement bonus schemes without regard to the evidence that teacher bonuses appear to have little impact on student achievement. Both parties are acting out of faith and the result is likely to be a huge waste of money. All they will do is encourage more teaching to the test and artificial inflation of test scores. Continue reading “Duels of Faith in Teacher Bonuses”

Teacher Bonuses Fail to Improve Student Results

A research brief published by the public education group, Save Our Schools, says that Labor and Liberal claims that teacher bonuses will improve student achievement is not supported by research evidence.

SOS National Convenor, Trevor Cobbold, said that the proposed bonuses will be a huge waste of money and encourage more teaching to the test in schools.

Continue reading “Teacher Bonuses Fail to Improve Student Results”

Teacher Performance Pay has not Increased Student Results

There are persistent calls for the introduction of performance pay in Australia as a way to improve student achievement. Several performance pay programs have been trialled in the United States in recent years. They offer little evidence that performance pay will increase student results. Continue reading “Teacher Performance Pay has not Increased Student Results”

Teach for America is Not the Success Claimed

Teach For America is a flagship program of the US government to improve teaching and student results by fast tracking high achieving graduates into teaching. While it has generated glowing press reports, a new report just published in the US says the evidence about whether it works is, at best, mixed.

The report concludes that the lack of evidence of consistent impact should indicate to policy-makers that TFA is not likely to be the panacea that will reduce disparities in educational outcomes. These findings call into question the likely success of its Australian clone, Teach for Australia, launched by the Federal Education Minister, Julia Gillard, last year. Continue reading “Teach for America is Not the Success Claimed”

Obama’s Plan To Link Teacher Evaluation to Student Achievement Draws Strong Criticism from all Sides

At the end of July, President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, announced that grants worth $4.35 billion would be made available to states to further education change. Called the Race to the Top Fund, it is the largest-ever single federal investment in school reform.

As a condition of funding, the states are required to address four core reforms to increase student achievement and narrow achievement gaps. They are: common, internationally benchmarked standards and assessments; effective teachers and principals; data to inform decisions; and turnarounds of the lowest-performing schools.

The most controversial aspect is using student test results to evaluate the effectiveness of teachers and principals and to determine compensation and promotions, tenure and removal. Duncan stated that linking teacher and student test data is “absolutely fundamental—it’s a building block”.

The proposal has generated widespread criticism from a wide range of academics and former education officials. They provide a very compelling case that the proposal is unsupported by research and will likely have significant unintended consequences for student learning. Continue reading “Obama’s Plan To Link Teacher Evaluation to Student Achievement Draws Strong Criticism from all Sides”

Performance Pay Schemes Are Unreliable and Misleading

It seems that performance pay based on gains in student achievement may not be so good at identifying good teachers as its advocates claim.

It has been delivered a body blow by a major new study published in the United States. The study shows that “value-added” methods for determining the effectiveness of classroom teachers are built on very shaky assumptions and may be highly unreliable and misleading. Continue reading “Performance Pay Schemes Are Unreliable and Misleading”

Why Merit Pay Won’t Work

The subject today is merit pay. This is an important topic because it has become clear that President Obama has decided to hang his hat on this idea.

It has not yet been explained just what he means by merit pay. Does he mean that teachers should be paid more for teaching in what is euphemistically called “hard-to-staff” schools? Or paid more for teaching in areas where there are shortages, like certain kinds of special education or subjects such as math and science? Or paid more for mentoring other teachers? Or paid more for teaching longer days?

I would call such compensation “performance pay,” rather than “merit pay,” because teachers are paid more for doing more.

Continue reading “Why Merit Pay Won’t Work”

Teacher Cuts Undermine Public Education

It is with deep regret that the teaching profession in ACT public schools is once again forced into the position of taking industrial action.

The ACT Budget was brought down on 6 June locking in place the cut of 145 teaching positions in schools [120 or 10% from secondary schools] worth $12.5m on an annual basis and 90 positions from the Central Office [a cut of $6m in this financial year and $11.5m in the following financial year]. Further job cuts are planned in the Towards 2020 proposals including 22 senior positions for 2007. Continue reading “Teacher Cuts Undermine Public Education”