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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Merit Pay

When the Superintendent received her merit pay we were told that she was serving as a model for the sort of merit pay that the District wanted to offer teachers.

Here's how her merit pay was structured:
She was eligible for a maximum of 10% of her salary in merit pay. There were 12 statistical measures, which, if reached, would each entitle her to a bonus of .5% of her pay. There were an additional four elements which were double-weighted and would fetch her 1% of her pay if achieved. Four of the statistical measures were achieved (none of them a double-weighted one), earning her a bonus of 2%. Her base salary is $264,000, so her bonus was $5,280.

That is not, however, how the proposed merit pay or bonus pay for teachers is structured. Not at all. So how in the world is the Superintendent's incentive pay in any way a model for teachers' incentive pay? It's not. Those claims were false.

Read what Director DeBell said about the Superintendent's bonus pay being a model for teachers here.

The merit pay proposal for teachers looks like this: 1% if they opt-in to SERVE. After that there are some stipends available for teachers with Strong ratings who work in "low-performing" schools and some stipends for teachers who accept mentoring roles. This is radically different from the superintendent's cash-for-results style of bonus.

For integrity's sake, the two merit pay structures should be aligned. Either pay teachers cash for outcomes with bonuses up to 10% of their base pay, or pay the superintendent 1% for subjecting herself to a similar assessment of her work and 1% more if she will move her office to a "low-performing" school. That would then be her maximum bonus.

20 comments:

gavroche said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gavroche said...

I've been wondering, isn't the 1 percent bonus the Supt is dangling before teachers to get them to sign up for "SERVE," money that the District doesn't currently have?

Isn't the District claiming it will get that money from the November levy?

What if the levy fails? (I know I'm not voting for it.)

In other words, what if teachers opt-in for "SERVE" -- which ties their pay to their students' MAP scores -- and then the levy fails this fall?

Won't that mean they will have agreed to hinge their careers on student test scores in exchange for nothing?

If this happens, Goodloe-Johnson will have what she wants -- teachers "willingly" signing up for merit pay. But teachers may well get nothing but grief in return.

Do teachers realize this?

I see it as a local version of "Race to the Top" -- the ed reformers dangle money in front of people (states/districts/teachers) and demand they accept some condition (charter schools/merit pay). This prompts many or all to sign on -- but only some (a few states) or none (no teachers in SPS if there is no levy money) actually win anything.

Charlie Mas said...

The District says that they will also pursue some of the federal TIF money to pay for this. But that's just for one year.

Meg said...

Actually, from what I understand (so please, someone, correct me if I'm wrong): the Superintendent would get a bonus for moving to a low-performing school only if she was rated as highly effective. Once she was in the school, part of her evaluation would be based on how the whole school did... so if the school continued to struggle, that would lower her rating. This could mean that after her first year at the school, regardless of her personal performance, she would no longer rate as highly effective and thus no longer qualify for the bonus. The district put the NSAP in place to try (in theory) to benefit schools, but it looks very much like the SERVE proposal, as it stands, could encourage teachers to flee struggling schools simply to keep from being punished in their careers. Which would benefit neighborhood schools how?

And as far as I can tell, the downsides for teachers who are part of SERVE will still be in place if the levy fails, but there will be no upside.

Someone may have a more informed take, though, and be able to correct what I've missed. And possibly provide a less ticked-off perspective.

gavroche said...

I am particularly disturbed by the fact that the research and data show that "merit pay" does not improve student achievement or teaching.

So why is Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson pushing this?

I thought she said she was "data-driven."

The data support neither "merit/performance pay" or charters. And yet the ed reformers are unwilling to admit that they are selling failure.

Check out Vanderbilt University's report on Texas' 3-year merit pay experience. It failed.
(Study of merit pay in Texas by the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University.)

Also see: "Study: Texas' teacher merit pay program hasn't boosted student performance."


And this from Seattle Education 2010:
"The Pillars of Education Reform Are Toppling."


Seattle's teachers should reject "SERVE." I don't want my kids' teachers judged by their (controversial and expensive) MAP test scores, or feel pressured to teach to the test. But that narrow focus is where "SERVE" will lead.

p.s. That's my read, too, Meg -- teachers who "opt in" to the 1 percent merit pay scheme will be stuck with it even if the levy fails and there is no money to make good on the Superintendent's promise to pay them. That is the same trick that Obama/Duncan are using at the federal level with "Race to the Top."

In both "Race to the Top" and "SERVE," while many states and teachers may capitulate to the political pressures to accept these policies, only a few states, and possibly zero SPS teachers, will actually receive any money.

It's pretty deceptive.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Offer, starting in 2011-2012, stipends for the district’s highest performing teachers (contingent on fully tying SERVE Seattle to their professional evaluations) in return for service provided to colleagues at their school:
Demonstration Teacher—stipend of $2,500/year
Mentor Teacher—stipend of $3,500/year
Master Teacher—stipend of $5,200/year
• Starting in 2011-2012, offer stipend of $2,500/year for strong teachers (with Serve Seattle fully tied to their evaluations) who work in the lowest-performing
(Level 1) schools.

The above is also another way for teachers to receive merit pay.

another mom said...

I have been following contract negotiations via both the SEA and SPS websites. It is interesting and you all may want to see the latest from SEA.

They have compromised a bit but based on what I read not to a degree that sacrifices their principles. We will see how the district responds.

I do apologize I am a dummy when it comes to providing links.

http://www.seattlewea.org/static_content/bargainupdate9.pdf

another mom said...

Ok, I blew it. The URL did not work. Go to the SEA website seawea.org then to bargin updates and August 17th.

Sorry.

Sahila said...

http://mynorthwest.com/category/news_chick_blog/20100818/How-to-evaluate-Seattle-teachers/

published today.... notice the anti-teacher comments

Jan said...

Gavroche: Silly us! The Superintendent only likes "data driven" solutions when she wants to be able to manufacture and use data to implement top-down, centralized control of teachers and schools. She has NEVER been enthusiastic about, or even willing to consider, the use of data to inform the decisions that her administration makes (the adoption of Discovery math in the face of significant data as to its ineffectiveness in many student populations, the contract for Cleveland STEM, despite NO data indicating that "across the board" project based learning in a STEM school will be effective, etc.)

The merit pay incentives particularly gall me. In addition to your points, note that "merit" pay does not simply go to teachers taking on extra work, or to teachers whose students show X amount of improvement. If I were a teacher and opted to go to a low-performing school, I still would get no reward -- UNLESS I also agreed to have my evaluations tied to SERVE. Even if ALL my kids advanced 2 full academic years, learned to play musical instruments, and the class won a city award for community service -- none of it would "count" as "good work" for merit pay purposes, UNLESS I was signed up for SERVE.
And -- what is the 1% across-the board payment bonus for SERVE teachers for? There is no indication (ahead of time) that they will teach any better, or that their kids will perform any better? To be good stewards of public funds, shouldn't they be saying -- IF you sign up for this, AND we work with you all year (all the fluffy teacher support buzz word stuff) AND it results in higher test scores for your kids -- THEN we will give you the 1%? If this were truly a great idea, why wouldn't teachers jump at it, even structured this way? Hm! Truth is -- it is NOT a positive, teacher/student oriented solution. It is untested (or what data exists out there suggests it will fail), punitive to teachers, and very likely deleterious to student learning. So, of COURSE they have to offer the money up front (why else would anyone be stupid enough to sign on) and divorce its receipt from any actual student learning benefits (because there probably won't BE any -- at least, they aren't counting on any). This is just bribery -- plain and simple. If this money were truly tied to student performance, they should simply be saying -- if student scores go up by X amount, your salary goes up by Y amount. If you teach in X school, or teach X population of kids, you get Y amount. Why should anyone have to be part of SERVE to get it? In fact, if teachers can raise student scores WITHOUT all the cost of SERVE, -- or are willing to work in those schools or with those students without the cost of SERVE, shouldn't their bonuses be even higher? -- because they sure are costing the district less!!

(Bear in mind, of course, I share your concerns for the effect of testing on real student learning. I also don't want my kids taught by people whose jobs (or salaries) depend on whether they can narrow down what they teach enough to "train" my kids to get a specific score on a test. I am just saying that even IF that premise (as to the usefulness of merit pay) were valid -- their "merit pay" proposals don't pass the smell test.

Anonymous said...

So it comes down to test scores.

According to the 8/17 SEA update:

Finally, when challenged by SEA to identify what parts of their SERVE proposal they were actually willing to negotiate over, their blocking strategy became clear.

The district was not willing to negotiate any proposal that didn't base teacher evaluations on student test scores.

Anonymous said...

I have yet to see what the definition of responsibilities are for a Master teacher, Mentor teacher or Demonstration teacher. I have looked in all of the district material and have come up blank. Does anyone know what the additional responsibilities in these positions are and do you have to move to a low performing school to get the stipend?
Thanks

Anonymous said...

Goodloe-Johnson and the other SPS admins do not believe in merit pay. Their own example would be the best way to sell the unproven but innovative strategy. Would Phil Brockman have taken his new downtown position if he knew that a significant part of his evaluation would be based on MAP test scores? Would Kathy Thomson, a former respected principal, have followed her ambitions with the possibility of early termination based on test scores? Where is their leadership, or have these and the other SPS admins just become the voice for the authoritarian Supt?

And where is the board's leadership? How can they stand by as Goodloe-Johnsonand her team of newbies wastes a year and half of negotiations to pursue a non-collaborative end.

What happened? Seattle admins and teachers had worked out a positive and collaborative environment. Yes there have been issues and all the educational problems have not been solved, but they haven't solved them anywhere else, but the teachers are working very hard.

Goodloe-Johnson's leadership and negative personality has poisoned the working atmosphere in SPS. Board members please do not allow this to go on. Michael Debell, Kay Smith-Blum and others, you are smart community minded people. This situation will only end with a broken and scarred teacher workforce. Will it be worth it? Look what happened to Bellevue. Their authoritarian supt. left and immediate changes were made to soften and re-create a collaborative environment.

Please step in!

dan dempsey said...

DeBell said that MGJ merit pay was to lay the ground work for teacher merit pay. There is ZERO evidence that Superintendent merit pay has any impact on performance.

If you look at the poor results achieved that netted MGJ $5,280 for the improvement on about 1/4 of her goals as attributable to MGJ's positive actions that would not have happened without the bonus is a real reach.

The purpose of merit pay is to control employees. The question is should this central administration control teachers?

Look at the proposals that have come from MGJ. I will not list them but I am not pleased.

The only merit pay that I would believe would be productive would be based on whole school improvement and a bonus for the entire faculty .... but how would this be measured?

This district has not even figured out math standards, instructional materials or their own Promotion /Non-Promotion policies ... they seem unlikely to do much that makes much sense.

This entire negotiation seems like a cover for ongoing administrative incompetence.

Revised Testimony that I did not get on the Agenda to give.

Eric M said...

About:

Offer, starting in 2011-2012, stipends for the district’s highest performing teachers (contingent on fully tying SERVE Seattle to their professional evaluations) in return for service provided to colleagues at their school:
Demonstration Teacher—stipend of $2,500/year
Mentor Teacher—stipend of $3,500/year
Master Teacher—stipend of $5,200/year
• Starting in 2011-2012, offer stipend of $2,500/year for strong teachers (with Serve Seattle fully tied to their evaluations) who work in the lowest-performing
(Level 1) schools.

The above is also another way for teachers to receive merit pay."

Except that the SERVE proposal has no definitions for these things, and no mechanisms defined for teachers to achieve them.

It was sort of shockingly vague and mysterious, and fairly raises suspicions about lack of follow-through on these promises.

Eric M said...

Also, for all the "scientific" "data-driven" ideological framework of teacher evaluations under SERVE -

The Superintendent would reserve the new right, (under SERVE) to change any teacher's evaluation without stated cause and without appeal.

So, when it comes right down to it, what's she's saying is, crush dissent, promote toadies, the actual test results she's otherwise promoting so heavily really don't matter.

So which is it, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson? Are MAP test rsults important, or aren't they ?

Sahila said...

SERVE brings "at will" firing policies to education in Washington State...

Plain and simple...

Cant (yet) get rid of the (pesky) unions, which to some extent ensure due process for education workers, so go around that bigger problem and insert what is, in effect, an "at will" clause.

Charlie Mas said...

I think it is very likely that there are a whole host of people who would be wonderful teachers but aren't.

I don't think that a 1% salary increase is what it will take to attract them to the job. Nor do I think the little stipends for strong evaluations or for additional service as mentors will bring them into teaching.

In the absence of that sort of impact, what is the point of these little recognitions?

Jan said...

Charlie: I think that the "point of all these little recognitions" is PR (to the public, not the teachers), plain and simple. As far as I know, there is no data to suggest that merit pay in this configuration, and in these amounts, has ever been shown to be effective in improving student learning. Moreover there appears to be sentiment among some educators (although again I am not aware of any research) that much of this is actually divisive. That certainly has some logical appeal. But it makes it look like there is "substance" to their claim that it will have a positive effect on teaching and/or student learning. It also allows the District to appear to be offering carrots (and not just sticks) and it may even help their cause by making teachers who oppose it seem even more obstreperous and "bad" (hmm -- they must be among the bad apples, otherwise, why would they not be jumping at the opportunity to teach better and get more pay. . . .").
I think the Union should go back and say:
1. No merit pay unless it is based on peer-reviewed research that shows its effectiveness.
2. The ONLY evaluation system we will agree to is the one that was jointly developed (and signed off on) by the District and the SEA last spring.
3. IF the District wants the teachers in the future to consider agreeing to add an element of student performance to their evaluation, it has to be based on published, peer-reviewed research, and it must have been "backtested" for at least 3 years to test the validity of its components -- which means they will have to start some sort of "pilot program" NOW and run/tweak it for several years to figure out what (if anything) really works, and how to control for variables.
4. If teachers are held accountable, administrators (principals and downtown) must be as well. Otherwise, there is no incentive for them to provide teachers with what they need (support, resources, etc.) to succeed -- AND high pay administration pay contracts must be redesigned so that some pay is "deferred" until it is clear that it has been earned by student performance. Let's see how long Discovery Math survives if every principal/administrator/etc. loses 20 or 30 percent of their pay if the achievement gap does not close -- when it could so plainly be addressed by better textbooks, smaller class size, and, for the students who need it, access to direct instruction and mastery learning models.

Sahila said...

See these links for analysis of the effectiveness of "performance pay" and bonuses etc...

http://www.jstor.org/pss/977147

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-232X.1989.tb00736.x/abstract

http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/books-teachers_performance_pay_and_accountability/

General thrust of these papers? Merit/bonus pay thinking is flawed and full of mistaken assumptions, the methodology is flawed and it doesnt work!

Teachers.... please pass this info on to your union/bargaining people before they sell you down the river...