A step towards performance pay?

June 21st, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Kate Shuttleworth at NZ Herald reports:

A pay deal has been signed between the union representing primary and intermediate teachers and the Government to introduce an allowance for 800 expert teachers worth $4 million, the start of .

Principals will endorse teachers who meet a set of criteria judged against the New Zealand curriculum and they will be assessed by a panel of people who are yet to be decided.

The union, New Zealand Educational Institute, say they took the idea of an allowance to reward experienced teaching staff to the Education Ministry in its pay negotiation round, asking for as many allowances as possible.

Its Primary Teachers Collective Agreement was fully ratified with the ministry on June 7, after long negotiations.

The “advanced classroom expertise teacher allowance” was agreed to by the ministry, but was capped at 800 eligible teachers.

By 2015, 800 teachers across 2000 primary and intermediate schools will be paid an allowance of $5000 a year – worth $4 million.

A good step in the right direction.

Better teachers should be paid more.

A staff member at NZEI said its members would not see it as performance pay because teachers’ achievement wouldn’t be based on raw National Standards data.

That’s not what performance pay should be about. It should be about flexibility so that top teachers are paid significantly more than other teachers. How one assesses who is a top teacher is something I’d leave to each principal or board.

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25 Responses to “A step towards performance pay?”

  1. anonymouse (708 comments) says:

    A good step in the right direction.

    Yes, but just another thing that needs to be added to Novapay

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  2. doggone7 (756 comments) says:

    What? Why should each principal or board be assessing who is a top teacher? That would mean trusting the principal to make professional judgements. I thought the prime thing that has stuffed up the once great NZ education system, was that teachers were trusted to do what they were the experts in!

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  3. simonway (375 comments) says:

    How one assesses who is a top teacher is something I’d leave to each principal or board.

    But this is part of the problem with so-called “performance pay” schemes. Having principals and boards decide which teachers are best will lead to arbitrary and inconsistent standards, which will mean good teachers having their pay unfairly cut because a principal, who is the authority to do it, is on some personal vendetta.

    Any scheme that purports to provide for “merit pay” must have at least the following standards to ensure that students and good teachers aren’t hurt by it:

    1. Should encourage co-operation, not competition. If one teacher figures out a great technique to motivate kids, then every kid not in her class should also have the opportunity to benefit from it, so there shouldn’t be any incentives for teachers to keep the things that work a secret.
    2. Should have clear and easily-understandable standards, so that teachers know exactly what they need to achieve to get a pay-rise.
    3. Should be “outcomes-based”, in the sense that if every single teacher at a school manages to perform at the top level, then every single teacher at that school should be getting the top pay. This is as opposed to, say, a pay system that rewards the “top 10%” or something like that.
    4. Should not discourage teachers from taking on “troublesome” classes. If it’s easier to get a pay-rise teaching the “gifted” kids than it is teaching the special-needs kids, then you’ll drive some of the best teachers away from those students who need it the most.

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  4. Ed Snack (1,801 comments) says:

    Yep, major, major, problem. Once the union is involved, the definition of what a “high performance teacher” is will be effectively “the sort of person who supports the union line on every issue regardless of common sense”. And what’s more it will be regardless of whether trhey are a good teacher or not. Probably based on qualifications and courses.

    Children, and to a lesser extent, know who are good teachers, teachers who inspire and transfer knowledge and imp[ortantly, the desire to acquire and use the knowledge. Identifying those would be a great idea; but this is not that.

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  5. dime (9,676 comments) says:

    it is a good start, but as others are saying it could be rorted.

    800 = union shills, teachers who have been there the longest..

    but implement and review in a year.

    of course when the left get in they will scrap it. they will just elevate all teachers who arent on it to that level.

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  6. Samuel Smith (276 comments) says:

    “A good step in the right direction” – Pun intended or not?

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  7. Exclamation Mark (85 comments) says:

    Go to a high school, any high school or college in the country, talk to the students and to the parents and ask them which teacher they would most like for any given subject and who they would least like and you will very quickly find out who the good teachers and and who the shitbags are.

    Hell even talking to te few opf the teachers and you’ll soon learn who really pulls their weight and who’s there to pay off the mortage.

    Working out how to pay teachers by performance isn’t rocket science and it is about time teachers stopped pretending it is.

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  8. doggone7 (756 comments) says:

    Exclamation Mark, dime, Ed Snack;

    So the point I’ve made about not being able to trust teachers/principals to run the scheme has been backed by you all.

    The challenge is to come up with a system that works and can be trusted. So please post the specific scheme and the specifics detail of how it would operate to achieve the desired end results.

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  9. projectman (206 comments) says:

    Oh dear, the NZEI has agreed to national standards for assessing teacher quality. What is the world coming to?

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  10. Keeping Stock (10,181 comments) says:

    @ DPF – don’t forget that Kate Shuttleworth is a former spin-doctor for the PPTA, so everything that she says on teacher union issues needs to be viewed through that particular filter.

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  11. Andronicus (219 comments) says:

    I’ve no problem with paying better teachers more, but determining who IS better is a can of worms. You can’t leave that to principals and boards, where favouritism is bound to creep in. And you don’t leave it to the kids, and parents will know little of what goes on in the classroom.

    Frankly, I don’t know how you do it.

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  12. Andronicus (219 comments) says:

    Exclamation Mark, the NZEI covers primary schools. Are you going to ask a six-year-old to judge her teacher?

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  13. doggone7 (756 comments) says:

    Andronicus

    That is the challenge posed above: So for anyone please post the specific scheme and the specifics detail of how it would operate to achieve the desired end results.

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  14. Rightandleft (656 comments) says:

    This scheme is terrible, leaving the door open to pure favouritism by principals. For those of you who hate the unions keep in mind that most primary school principals are staunch unionists, the same ones opposing National Standards so how much do you really trust them not to promote the strongest unionists in their schools? The awful part is that the limit of 800 teachers means that at the majority of primary schools not a single teacher earn this reward while all teachers below the top step on the payscale have taken an effective paycut to pay for it. One wonders exactly how honest the NZEI leadership was with their members to gain their approval for a scheme like this.

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  15. Exclamation Mark (85 comments) says:

    doggone7

    You obviously didn’t read my whole post. Note that I said: “Hell even talking to te few opf the teachers and you’ll soon learn who really pulls their weight and who’s there to pay off the mortage”(sic)

    I have spoken to many teachers, most of them are heartily sick of being paid the same as the useless bastards who have chosen teaching because it’s a job with a safe income; the people who have stayed at a school long enough to get themselves into nice $80K+ pay band and just coast for the rest of their careers knowing that short of serious misconduct there is fuck all chance that they will be demoted – let alone fired; The teachers brought in from overseas who struggle to communicate in English, come from countries where education is an absolute privilege – not a right and are therefore in no way shape or form capable of managing a class of boisterous NZ kids because the kids they are used to teaching wouldn’t dream of misbehaving; the people who have chosen to teach because it means they can knock off at 3:30 so they can go and pick up their own kids or go to the gym and have themselves 12 weeks holiday every year – all the while leaving their colleagues to stay until 5pm, coach the sports teams, supervise field trips and all the other extra-circular stuff that decent hard working teachers do.

    I could go on but these are the most common complaints I have heard from teachers I have spoken too.

    Andronicus – if you had read my post you would have seen I was specifically talking about high schools, but any ask the parents of in any community that gives a flying fuck about their kid’s education and you’ll soon learn which teachers are worth their salts and which aren’t.

    Back to doggone7 – Oh I see, we have to provide you with a complete fool-proof, functioning system to manage performance based pay or else we aren’t allowed to talk about your pet subject? Is that it? Fuck off.

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  16. Grendel (972 comments) says:

    this is odd. people are complaining that it can be rigged by their boss and favouritism will come into it?

    thats called having a job! if you choose to let someone else be in control of your income then they will decide what it is. the main reason i became self employed was becuase i was sick of the fact that at my job, only the smokers got anywhere becuase the manager smoked and that was the only way to get any rapport with her.

    So yes, crappy principals may rig it, but so what, thats life. at least this way, if you are a good teacher and have the skills and testimonials from parents and colleagues, you can say to the school, give me the extra money or i walk. then you put your skills to the market and only take a job at a new school if they give you the bonus unit. and if you dont deliver, they take it away from you.

    just becuase teachers now have to vaguely join the real world and show value to get extra income, does not make this a big bad thing. the next best step is to do away with any of stepped income, give the school a budget and let them compete for good teachers, and pay the crap ones what they are worth.

    now what i dont like is this bit:

    >>
    The union, New Zealand Educational Institute, say they took the idea of an allowance to reward experienced teaching staff to the Education Ministry in its pay negotiation round, asking for as many allowances as possible.
    >>

    why just ‘experience’? long serving teachers are part of the problem. i dont care if you have been teaching for 20 years, if you are rubbish the person with 2 years experience who connects better with students, engages and teaches better should get the money. the money should ideally be for those who have the skills, passion and drive to go above and beyond the bare minimum, the best teachers should be on 100K plus, the worst fired and the average should be lucky to get 40K.

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  17. E. Campbell (90 comments) says:

    This is not actually performance pay. From my understanding it is an alternative career route for classroom teachers not wishing to take on extra administrative duties that come with more pay. Now they can apply to become an ACET as an option. The fact that it is capped at only 800 teachers across a sector with thousands of teachers means it is not going to have a huge impact over-all.

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  18. Anthony (785 comments) says:

    How about ending the almost automatic pay increases teachers get based purely on their years of teaching? Paying good teachers a little more or letting them get up the scale a little quicker is pretty much a waste of time and effort unless the poor teachers face real sanctions like no pay rise. Better still would be term contracts with no renewal for poor performers.

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  19. doggone7 (756 comments) says:

    Exclamation Mark

    Very touchy! I have a spouse who works in a business which everyone professes to be an expert in and decries her expertise and that of her colleagues. If that makes it my “pet subject” so be it.

    What gets me is that when asked what specifically they would do, the complainers are silent or spit ignorant invective. Generalised grizzling is easy. If real answers were simple the self-professed experts should have no problem coming up them and sharing them with everyone. Teachers are too thick, self-interested, lazy, union-bound and untrustworthy to come up with and put a performance system into practice. Besides they’re busy planning their next holiday and racing off to the gym.

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  20. KiwiSteve (14 comments) says:

    Not sure if anyone remembers this idea was floated in the late /80s as ‘Teachers of Merit’, for the same reasons: not everyone wanted to be an AP/DP or Principal, where, despite popular opinion, many very good teachers headed. Some prefer classroom teaching as that is their real expertise.

    The concept is to reward that expertise, not to allow shallow and nasty sniping at those who are less expert, and yes maybe lacking in some way. I’d say the same goes for politicians, police officers, doctors, bankers, farmers, mechanics, reporters and media hacks. Do we hear the same invective against them? Not much. So why the teachers? Oh, I remember… they’re in a union.

    Don’t get me wrong: I’m not for or against unions, per se. I just happen to have years of experience in unions, teaching, manufacturing, and an ongoing interest in people, business, economics, politics and this great country of ours. If there’s one thing I dislike it’s just plain kicking someone where it hurts… just because you can. I think it’s called fascism. One day the boot will be on the other foot, and all the railings against ‘the unions’ won’t sound so clever or informed.

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  21. BlairM (2,307 comments) says:

    Why teachers seem to think that they should be different from any other profession is something that bewilders me. Accountants don’t seem to have any issues with performance-based pay, even though there is no precise and objective way of measuring their performance either. People just go to accountants they know and trust, and that get recommended to them. That’s how we sort good accountants from poor ones in real life. Why would teachers and schools operate any differently if their current protections were to go away? The only people who would think that unfair would be the poor teachers, which is precisely why we need to implement these ideas so that they can be got rid of.

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  22. Red Sam (122 comments) says:

    “How about ending the almost automatic pay increases teachers get based purely on their years of teaching?”

    After seven to eight years, most teachers have reached their maximum salary step. That’s it. No more salary step increase unless a teacher heads into a middle management or deputy/principal position. Therefore, as a teacher you could go for thirty plus years (by far the majority of your career) and only receive a salary increase when the Ministry of Education and NZEI negotiate an increase to all base salaries, usually 1-3%, not necessarily annually, and barely keeping up with inflation.

    You’ll find, however, that most teachers are not in the profession for the money. Those who are tend to take their degree and diploma (four years plus tertiary qualification) elsewhere.

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  23. HB (298 comments) says:

    also…
    the pay increases are not automatic
    the Principal has to attest to the competency of the teacher and sign it off

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  24. doggone7 (756 comments) says:

    HB

    The problem is HB is you come on here posting facts. We have David Farrar using politician-speak like “If I was a primary school teacher I’d be embarrassed by having a union that is so hostile to consistent assessment.” The factual thing about that statement is that if he were in a union which had hostility to consistent assessment he’d be embarrassed. Are all the teachers who have consistent assessments and appraisals made of their performance embarrassed about the ignorance pushed to the community. The most important change to be made is not the public waiting at school gates for their pound of flesh but for the media commentators to be embarrassed about their ignorance and lack of willingness to do some fact-finding. Maybe they have been too busy exhorting their followers to get onto boards of trustees so they’d be in better positions to be informed and make some practical useful contribution.

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  25. Andronicus (219 comments) says:

    Exclamation Mark: this topic is about primary schools, not high schools. Full Stop.

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