Educational Editorial: Pay for performance with teachers

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Governor Bob McDonnell's legislative agenda includes incentives for teachers who demonstrate success in "hard to staff" schools. Whether through pay, promises of promotion, or pride, professionals accomplish what they believe to be important.

The Governor is distinguishing pay for "practice" from pay for "performance."

Merit systems have frequently failed for one of two reasons: lack of money or a poor evaluation system.

Fiscally, a merit system that has quotas will not work: if you make the grade, you get the money. Also, teachers need to understand the goal and how it is determined: when student achievement increases, I get paid more.

Now the safety net in both the proposal of the Governor and the recently announced federally funded program in Henrico County is that the teachers get there "regular" pay…the same base salary that they would have received calculated on years of service and acceptable performance…but incentives have been added for success in schools that have had poor performance.

By the way, "hard to staff" is a euphemism for poor know, like saying passed away rather than dying.

Incentives work…just ask the millions of people who labor businesses where you "eat what you catch." However, those who will be incentivized need to have a clear picture of success.

Teachers have been conditioned to believe that they will be better off financially in an "all for one and one for all" environment. Some even believe that their role is to "serve up" skills and knowledge and the student's role is to consume.

Perhaps it is time to understand that if students don't eat and grow, no one does.

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