UK performance pay

May 7th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Ministers want to link pay to performance in the classroom as part of a new drive to improve results and attract the best graduates into the profession.

A cross-party group of MPs today says that a new payment by results system is needed to stop the worst teachers hiding behind a “rigid and unfair” national salary structure.

The report is here. It is an evidence based report, and is backed by all parties in the UK Parliament. This is not a left vs right thing. It is a improving outcomes for kids thing.

In the report published today, the Commons education select committee says staff should be rewarded for “adding the greatest value” to pupils’ education and be given paid sabbaticals to further their skills.

MPs claim the reforms would address fears that poor teachers are having a “very significant” impact on children’s long-term career prospects. The report quotes international research which shows that the worst teachers could cost a class of 20 the equivalent of £250,000 in lost earnings over their career.

Eric Hanushek, an economist at Stanford University in America, has shown that an excellent teacher can cover a year and a half’s material in a single year, whereas a poor one will get only a third as far.

The difference is immense. If a good teacher can teach three times as much as a poor teacher, then there is a case to pay them three times as much.

Teaching unions are strongly opposed to any attempt to alter national pay and conditions. However, the committee’s report says: “No longer should the weakest teachers be able to hide behind a rigid and unfair pay structure.

It is a pity that teacher unions are so wedded to the current structure, rather than seeing the potentially huge benefits could bring in for the majority of teachers. They are allowing the minority to hold back the majority.

“We believe that performance management systems should support and reward the strongest teachers, as well as make no excuses — or, worse, incentives to remain — for the weaker. Given the profound positive and negative impacts which teachers have on pupil performance, we are concerned that the pay system continues to reward low performers at the same levels as their more successful peers.”

Change is necessary and desirable.

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29 Responses to “UK performance pay”

  1. decanker (220 comments) says:

    “If a good teacher can teach three times as much as a poor teacher, then there is a case to pay them three times as much”

    Or follow Treasury’s lead and just triple the class sizes of the good teachers and sack the others. Problem solved eh?

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  2. hmmokrightitis (1,458 comments) says:

    As if to prove what the stupid kids have to look forward to in life, decanker opens his bowels instead of his mind…

    The school our kids go to is a decile 10, and every single one of the teachers there want this to happen – Ive spoken to all of them about it – small school, 10 teachers – and they cant wait.

    Long overdue. The teachers unions will get all emotive and fight and howl and wail. Change will come, thank goodness.

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  3. Bill Courtney (107 comments) says:

    Several points:
    First, Eric Hanushek is one of the most extreme right-wing economists in the field of “education economics”. He even made a cameo appearance in the film “Waiting for Superman”, which glorifies charter schools and epitomises the battle being waged in the USA between the reformers, as they like to call themselves, who argue for “Choice and Accountability” , and the supporters of quality public education, such as Diane Ravitch.
    Second, the fact this is a cross-party report is not surprising. The UK has been going down the national testing (Margaret Thatcher), national standards (Tony Blair) and school league table route for years. But it has never done them any good! Look at their PISA results, which have declined markedly over the years and yet the “reformers” still call for more of the same, tired, failed policies.
    Last, take a look at the New York Times story from last year, announcing the termination of the New York teacher bonus scheme, which paid out a total of $56 million and never made a scrap of difference to student achievement:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/18/education/18rand.html?_r=1&ref=sharonotterman

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  4. krazykiwi (9,188 comments) says:

    This issue could become a Waterloo for one of NZs last bastions of militant unionism. Happy days.

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  5. mikenmild (8,799 comments) says:

    Ha ha, the teacher unions are ‘militant’. Really?

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  6. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    “First, Eric Hanushek is one of the most extreme right-wing economists in the field of “education economics”. ”

    So?

    Define “extreme”.

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  7. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    “Ha ha, the teacher unions are ‘militant’. Really?”

    Yes.

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  8. UpandComer (496 comments) says:

    Id say they are pretty militant given they blatantly break the law around national standards, are utterly opposed to everything a national govt does no matter what it is, and are always purely and only partisan. How much more militant could you get aside from Teachers donning AK 47s? It boggles my mind why so much money has to go into ‘professional development’ and ‘facilities’, the arse end of education is far too fat and not enough money is going to where it matters at the other end.

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  9. wilhelmus7 (15 comments) says:

    250,000 for twenty students over their lifetime works out at about 312 pounds a year. Whoop-dee-do.

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  10. Psycho Milt (1,975 comments) says:

    The school our kids go to is a decile 10, and every single one of the teachers there want this to happen…

    Well, duh. Decile of the school is the biggest factor in what’s most likely to be measured and called “teacher performance” – what teacher at a decile 10 school wouldn’t be hanging out for it?

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  11. ross69 (3,637 comments) says:

    > If a good teacher can teach three times as much as a poor teacher, then there is a case to pay them three times as much.

    Strange how you never apply this logic to MPs’ pay.

    > an excellent teacher can cover a year and a half’s material in a single year

    Oh so the argument is about quantity, not quality?

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  12. ross69 (3,637 comments) says:

    From the article linked to by BIll Courtenay:

    “A New York City program that distributed $56 million in performance bonuses to teachers and other school staff members over the last three years will be permanently discontinued, the city Department of Education said on Sunday.

    The decision was made in light of a study that found the bonuses had no positive effect on either student performance or teachers’ attitudes toward their jobs.”

    Not everyone is motivated by the sound of a cash register. Alas, some on the Right can’t understand this simple fact.

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  13. slijmbal (1,133 comments) says:

    One of the key drivers for reduction in teacher quality in the UK was the lowering of academic qualifications required for secondary school teachers that started in the late 70s. It became one of the main career choices if you were not good enough to get in to university but could pass some A levels. It had decent starting pay and seen as a relatively cushy number amongst many.

    Teaching became a much less attractive profession (in the public system) as relative pay rates dropped (a natural consequence of taking lesser academically able people let them pay less).

    There were other key factors:
    - the way teachers were disempowered in terms of control of children
    - increase in social issues amongst kids in the UK – drugs, crime, violence etc
    - mass implementation of the comprehensive system – basically lowest common demoninator teaching
    - the increase in privately paid education sucking in good teachers partially in response to the lowering standards of public education
    - reduction in standards required to be hit to obtain GSCE qualifications i.e. it became easier to teach kids to pass exams

    Anecdotally, talking to friends and relatives in Old Blighty the educational system is seen as a basket case with a high percentage of useless teachers, tolerance for incredibly bad student behaviour, an amazing amount of focus on PC/social issues and little focus on actual learning.

    To be fair to the bad teachers in the UK performance pay may not make a lot of difference unless some of the systemic issues are dealt to. Mind you getting rid of them will be part of the overall solution.

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  14. mpledger (428 comments) says:

    Gary Rubenstein has done some basic statisitics on the latest release of New York teacher records. His first blog post is here
    http://garyrubinstein.teachforus.org/2012/02/26/analyzing-released-nyc-value-added-data-part-1/

    He showed that there was a correlation coefficient of .35 between a teacher’s score in 2010 and 2011. That would be considered a weak correlation.

    You’d pretty much expect a “good” teacher to be pretty consistant year in/year out so a good measure ought to have a correlation coefficient around 0.8-1.

    But even worse, the correlation in teachers who get graded in two different classrooms for the same subject in the same year (e.g. grade 5 and grade 6 maths) weren’t well corellated either.
    http://garyrubinstein.teachforus.org/2012/02/28/analyzing-released-nyc-value-added-data-part-2/

    It shows that the measures being used to judge a teacher are pretty bad.

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  15. mpledger (428 comments) says:

    And in the paper the other day, it said one of the key factors in getting students to perform well is emotional engagement.

    Try and measure that one.

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  16. mikenmild (8,799 comments) says:

    I think one of the problems we face with demands of ‘performance pay’ is that no one knows what it means or how it might work. As with other ambiguous phrases, such as ‘charter schools’, it means different things to different people.
    I guess at its core it might mean paying people by results and paying those who produce the best results more. There are a few difficulties with this. Firstly, there is the problem of measuring teacher performance in an objective and fair manner. Secondly, there is the problems of adjusting remuneration to incentivise the desired performance. These are not likely to be easily done.
    What has happened in professions like teaching is an alternative approach. Promotions based on merit. To advance in a teaching career, one generally needs to pick up more responsibilities.
    Interestingly, this appears to be similar to many other professions. We are not presented day after day with calls for performance pay for police officers for example. Yet many of the arguments made about education could be made about policing. For some reason, it is teaching that faces these demands.

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  17. HB (266 comments) says:

    a friend of mine (kiwi) who is a very experienced and capable teacher has recently got back from the UK. He spent one year teaching in an ordinary high school.
    He said the behaviour of the students was appalling and that teachers basically had no way of disciplining them. He wasn’t even allowed to keep them after class. In fact if he tried telling them off and keeping them in HE was in trouble! Apparently it impinged on the students ‘rights’

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  18. slijmbal (1,133 comments) says:

    Is anyone seriously suggesting that good/bad teachers do not influence pupils’ ability to learn and thus we pay them an appopriate differential?

    At the school I went to you could directly see the influence of better/worse teachers in exam results. Even kids know that.

    @MM must admit I always assumed performance pay meant better teaches received greater pay rises and was not a bonus scheme, which is very common in many of the companies I have worked in – normally it’s a combination of the two

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  19. Grendel (873 comments) says:

    MM once a teacher with a degree and a diploma of teaching has 6 or so years of full time experience they can go no higher on the base step.

    to get more money they either need to get promoted to management (HOD etc) so possibly do less teaching, or get given a discretionary management unit, which is not a base pay rise. this unit can go away as easy as its given.

    so the issue is (for me):

    1. How do we make it so that the good teacher advances faster than the average or mediocre? can the school allow a faster jump up the steps?

    2. How do we pay good teachers more than step 13 of the scale and make it mean something. the teachers i know and worked with in payroll all treated the discretionary units as a short term bonus. we need to give the good teachers confidence that their extra pay is actually worthwhile.

    3. how do we slow down and sideways manage the bad or mediocre teachers? from what i have seen, union interference means schools dont take the risk not signing off on a teachers extra service making the step by step payrise simply a matter of time, and not skill. this needs to change. if after 5 years a teacher is still on the base step, they might get the hint and bugger off or sort their crap out.

    how to do this? i am doubtful about simply looking at results for all the reasons the detractors say. personally i think just make it a management call. the school knows the good teachers, just like the students do. this might require a shakeup in the board of trustees system to make sure they are good enough managers, but thats not a reason to not do this (in fact its probably welcome). and yes before the detractors get riled, it could mean someone does not get on with their manager and so does not get payrises. its happened to me in a regular job, its part of life. if you are any good you go somewhere else and usually get a payrise. the issue currently for good teachers is that going somewhere else gets them usually the same money.

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  20. JC (838 comments) says:

    “Is anyone seriously suggesting that good/bad teachers do not influence pupils’ ability to learn and thus we pay them an appopriate differential?”

    Part of the argument for performance pay is more pay will encourage good teachers to keep teaching rather than becoming administrators.. or being lost to the system altogether.

    JC

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  21. wat dabney (3,455 comments) says:

    mm

    I think one of the problems we face with demands of ‘performance pay’ is that no one knows what it means or how it might work. As with other ambiguous phrases, such as ‘charter schools’, it means different things to different people.

    This is exactly why schools should operate in a free market; so that it can mean different things to different people and no one has to fight to enforce on others their competing ideas about “what it means or how it might work.”

    Grendel,

    Having a degree and a diploma are irrelevant to whether someone is a good teacher or not.

    That’s the very point.

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  22. slijmbal (1,133 comments) says:

    Oops meant to say

    ““Is anyone seriously suggesting that good/bad teachers do not influence pupils’ ability to learn and thus we SHOULDN’T ‘t pay them an appopriate differential?”

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  23. Johnboy (13,386 comments) says:

    Sack em all and rehire on performance based contracts. Plenty of room for the union aligned teachers at the POA….Wait a minute! :)

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  24. Psycho Milt (1,975 comments) says:

    Is anyone seriously suggesting that good/bad teachers do not influence pupils’ ability to learn and thus we SHOULDN’T ‘t pay them an appopriate differential?

    I’m not aware of anyone arguing this. It’s more that the union (ie, the teachers) doesn’t trust the principals and BoTs to decide who’s a better teacher, and nobody who isn’t a NACT partisan trusts this govt to come up with performance measures that won’t mine a rich vein of unintended consequences as schools and teachers proceed to game the fuck out of it. Added to that is the fact that the current system’s undisputed successes are based on the collaborative approach to teaching it encourages. The ideologues’ enthusiasm for shifting to a competitive model not only isn’t based on evidence it would raise the performance of the current worst-performing students, it’s quite likely to threaten the existing system’s successes. If you want to understand the intensity of the opposition to these proposals, look no further than those reasons, they’re entirely sufficient in and of themselves to explain it.

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  25. Johnboy (13,386 comments) says:

    Any system that is controlled by the union to the extent that good teachers fall in line rather than buck it because they know they are on a hiding to nothing is a system that has to go PM.

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  26. Psycho Milt (1,975 comments) says:

    I expect the staff of the Ministry of Education would be surprised and a little annoyed to hear there are people who imagine the teachers’ unions control the school system…

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  27. Johnboy (13,386 comments) says:

    What staff PM? :)

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  28. Mark (1,301 comments) says:

    PM you are right on the money. The Ministry can’t get a properly moderated national standards programme running so what chance is there of a properly administered performance pay system. None – under the BOT model of administration with volunteer trustees you are simply deluding yourself that performance pay models are feasible without major structural change to the administration of schools and some form of centralised and properly moderated assessment process.

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  29. Mark (1,301 comments) says:

    We seem to forget that our teachers work in an education system consistently ranked in the top 6 in the OECD yet we seem hell bent on fucking it for ideological reasons.

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