Performance Pay

May 4th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Primary school teachers fearing a move toward have proposed an alternative plan.

God forbid that teacher’s performance have any impact on their pay packet. It is vital that the worst teachers be paid no less than the best teachers.

A draft NZEI claim suggested a “potential counter” to any proposal to move toward performance pay. Teachers had said they did not want performance pay.

“However, a skills-based pay model that can objectively identify exemplary teaching practice and provide additional remuneration has merit, and further developmental work on it should be done,” the draft claim said.

This may have some merit. Encouraging exemplary teaching practice is worthwhile. However it is unclear how it would work. Is it something that 99% of teachers would easily be able to claim they do, and hence qualify for the extra remuneration?

“This is very different to, and is potentially a counter to, any proposal to move towards performance pay.”

Any skills-based pay system would have to be objective, fair and rigorous and not based on student results, the draft claim said.

“It must not lead to competition amongst teachers.”

Basing pay purely on student results s stupid. But it is equally stupid to not take any account at all of student results. They should be one input into the remuneration.

My performance pay system is simple. Each principal is free to pay each teacher whatever they think they are worth, within an overall budget. In other words, just like almost every other sector of society.

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22 Responses to “Performance Pay”

  1. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    I have long advocated a performance mechanism for teachers, along with easier mechanism for removal of deadwood, of which there is a moderate quantity. The issue is objectivity, and while a qualification-based mechanism might provide a measure objectivity, it’s far from perfect as there are some highly skilled teachers who can’t teach, and plenty of lowly qualified teachers who are excellent teachers.

    The alternative to pure qualification basis is individual performance plans for each teacher and while such planning may work for simple identification of strengths and areas for improvement in teaching capabilities, it would quickly become a litigious minefield if review outputs were linked to pay.

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  2. MarkMcLT (85 comments) says:

    “This is very different to, and is potentially a counter to, any proposal to move towards performance pay.”

    I think they’re on to something here. I recommend that the first step into this brave new world should be to halve the pay of all teacher union members and staff who think that “different to” is good writing style.

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  3. Manolo (13,517 comments) says:

    “Teachers had said they did not want performance pay.”

    Utterly absurd. Some of these “child-molesters of the mind” have never worked in the real world.

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  4. burt (8,027 comments) says:

    We train teachers to manage the vast difference in attitude and ability in a classroom, then having been trained in how individual people are so different all teachers want to be paid the same because they are all equal – I simply can’t understand how that works.

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  5. wreck1080 (3,807 comments) says:

    exemplary skills is rubbish.

    We will see teachers being forced to take child psychology courses and other rubbish. Crap teachers will still be crap teachers.

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  6. s.russell (1,580 comments) says:

    Wreck1080, I am entirely in favour of performance pay. But I am also in favour of teachers understanding child psychology.

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  7. OliverI (125 comments) says:

    “Each principal is free to pay each teacher whatever they think they are worth, within an overall budget.”

    Excellent idea, it seems fair and equitable, though it is the MoE that pays teachers, not individual schools so not part of their budget.

    Conceptually an excellent idea though!

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  8. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    If there was a performance mechanism for teachers… then there would be a good incentive not to pay them anymore.

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  9. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    Performance pay would be real easy.
    (In 2ndry schools anyway) they test children at the beginning of the year and again at the end. They know what they should be at (ie: level) at the beginning of the year, and what they should be at the end(ready for next year)

    Yes – some year 9 students arrive at secondary school at anywhere from year 8 (where they should be) down to year 4 – and thats a challenge for the teachers – but performance pay in primary will soon see the end of that range)

    So – the class has an average level of – in this case – year 9 start level, and at the years end they should be at year 9 end level.
    If the teacher gets them to this level, they keep their pay level. If below, then they drop (probably by the same %age as the class is below the aim point) and if they are above, then the teacher gets a boost.

    Of course everyone says that kids have different abilities and start at different levels – but no problem. The really smart kids will start year 9 possibly at year 10 level – well at years end they should be a year advanced – year 11 start level.

    But the socialist attitude of the unions will probably die before they agree to a system that is in the childrens interest – which is after all what they claim they are doing.

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  10. Grendel (972 comments) says:

    Oliver. its called bulk funding. then the salaries do not get paid from TS (teachers salaries fund), but the BG (bulk grant fund).

    i used to do teachers payroll and thats exactly how it worked. the only difference is that the Bulk funded schools were not allowed to pay more money to good teachers.

    this means that principals have to monkey around with their management units and give them out as a sort of non guaranteed payrise to the teaches they want to reward. but i have seen the fallout when the union gets involved and someone they don;t like (always a non union member) gets units over a teacher they do like (always a union member).

    AL

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  11. Steve (4,522 comments) says:

    If the deadwood is removed, where will they go? One guess.
    We sure as hell don’t want non-productives in the private sector

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  12. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    Performance based pay would not work under current funding formulas. It would operate like the NRL salary cap- as soon as you develop your young teachers or you have a year or two of good results, you would be forced to off-load your higher paying staff to maintain your teacher ratios.
    This happens already- our principal bemoans the fact that we train and skill them, then they leave to the neighbouring school who can afford them.
    The other problem is that schools are zoned and therefore limited in how large they can get. The more successful you are the harder it gets.

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  13. OliverI (125 comments) says:

    @Grendel

    Sorry – to be clear – I think it is a great idea, Why shouldn’t teachers get paid under the same model as everyone else. I just was acknowledging that the mechanisms are not in place to allow this to happen, and significant funding changes would need to be made.

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  14. Mr Nobody NZ (397 comments) says:

    @Grendel
    From you experience Grendel would you be able to provide some sort of ratio of Union vs Non Union teachers?

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  15. Rex Widerstrom (5,330 comments) says:

    Absurd? Let’s re-write it a little and see if it holds up…

    A draft union claim suggested a “potential counter” to any proposal to move toward performance pay. Waiters had said they did not want performance pay.

    “However, a skills-based pay model that can objectively identify exemplary table waiting practice, like delivering meals to the right diners before they get cold, and provide additional remuneration for doing so has merit, and further developmental work on it should be done,” the draft claim said.

    Nope, didn’t think so.

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  16. GPT1 (2,103 comments) says:

    Some of those arguments sound good, briefly. Like not encouraging negative competition between teachers, avoiding favouritism or cheating etc. Until one gives it more than a second’s thought and realises, as you point out, that’s how pretty much every other sector of society gets paid. And that seems to work.

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  17. PaulL (5,983 comments) says:

    As always, unions are strongest in areas where the employer is a poor faith negotiator. Say, for example, the government. The reality is that most parents would happily pay more for teachers (remember that teacher salary is a smallish component of school cost – in a 30 child classroom, the teacher’s salary is somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000 per annum per child). I reckon that, if you definitely got a top notch teacher, most parents would happily pay an extra $1,000 per child per year (i.e. a 50% pay rise for that teacher).

    The government is in the way here – if it weren’t for our money being washed through the government system, both teachers and parents would be better off. So, the obvious answer. Stop washing money through the government system. Every child is required to be educated, parents can choose which school and how much they pay. Anyone who cannot afford to send their child to school will have funding made available from govt (only as an income transfer, not washing everyone’s money through the system). Schools must meet a minimum standard, set and monitored by a slimmed down MOE.

    Done.

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  18. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    I think it is also a case of government and unions becoming so intertwined during the Clark years.

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  19. Nik (1 comment) says:

    Performance based pay is a fine theory that, like many theories, does not stack up in the real world.

    For starters, how do you measure performance in a transparent, objective and accurate mechanism in place. Such a thing does not exist. To take the example of tests mentioned above, this mechanism fails with regards to accuracy – it is not accurate as teachers performance is not the only variable (student attitude, family issues/economics, family input/attitude, friends, developmental issues… the list goes on). Others have suggested ‘ask the parents’ or ‘ask the students, they know’. Both of these clearly fail transparancy (nobody will know who has said what), objectivity (for example, students may take umbrage at a strict, high performing, teacher) and accuracy (who people believe to be high performing can easily be the opposite)

    The suggestion from the NZEI also fails as it is not accurate – as others have said, being qualified does not necessarily make a high performing teacher nor lack of qualifications a low performing one.

    For the people who stated things along the lines of “that’s how pretty much every other sector of society gets paid”. Do the mechanisms in place in “every other sector” (strangely not in any of the sectors I’ve been involved in (retail, admin etc)) meet the transparency, objectiveness and accuracy criteria? If not, how can you consider these mechanisms fair to the employees?

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  20. Harpoon (77 comments) says:

    Righto, David. You’re a racecar driver. I’ll pay you for the speed you get a car round the track, okay? But you’ll be given no choice about the car you do that in.

    I’ll be driving this here Ferrari. You’ll be driving that there Austin Allegro.

    You don’t mind, do you?

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  21. Clint Heine (1,568 comments) says:

    With your schooling Harpoon (not to mention absurdly defending the right to pay shit teachers the same as good ones), you’ll be hard pressed to get a job where you *could* afford that Ferrari. :) Better save up for a pair of “good” shoes don’t you think?

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  22. Grendel (972 comments) says:

    @Mr Nobody.

    i escaped the company in ’98, but around 96 when i started it was around 50% i think, but then the union convinced the govt that only union members could get the payrise for the new Collective contract.

    so then you had people who joined for two weeks, got the new pay and then quit and the people who decided it was easier to join and then ignore it.

    so now union membership is probably a lot higher, but while the union will claim they are all willing members, many are simply members becuase it saves them getting grief from the union bullies. they hate going on strike, but don;t want to get run out of their job by the union.

    And if the quality of union rep is the same as it was when they used to try and bully me, then tehy will all be big ego, little skill, loud voice people.

    AL

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