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In some places, a portion of teacher's salary is tied to the performance of a student. Do you believe this is right? I've heard teachers who are against it say that there are other things that affect a student's performance other than the teacher. So what do you think.....should a teacher's salary be tied to the performance of the students?

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Good topic. Should get a lot of participation.
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  • As long as it's a reasonable formula. A big (and completely legiimate) beef by teachers at schools in lower socio-economic schools is that they can hardly expect to compete with schools in rich areas performance-wise since they have a whole bunch of problems that the schools in rich areas don't … Read More

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    diafol 3,669   7 Years Ago

    Just to ask Vernon: What % of a teacher's salary would you put on examination results? Some years I have 2 A-level classes, 4 GCSE classes and a handful of non-examined classes. Other years, I may have a lot more non-examined classes and therefore less measurement of 'my success'. Sometimes … Read More

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> Do you believe this is right?

Yes of course. IMO a teachers job is much more than teaching a subject. It is to guide the student, develop his interest in the subject matter and understand why the student is not performing as he should be. There are many students out there who love the subject matter but hate the way it is presented thus resulting in low academic grades.

Of course, this isn't as simple as it sounds. The system should be such that it can't be sabotaged by the students who are sour if things don't go their way. But then again, I doubt the practicality of this idea given the fast paced and *busy* life the students and their parent's these days live. :)

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As long as it's a reasonable formula. A big (and completely legiimate) beef by teachers at schools in lower socio-economic schools is that they can hardly expect to compete with schools in rich areas performance-wise since they have a whole bunch of problems that the schools in rich areas don't have:

  1. Violence.
  2. Kids coming to school hungry.
  3. Kids who aren't fluent in English.
  4. Lack of parent volunteers.
  5. Less money per student. You get money from government and that's it. Very little from community charity, PTA bake sales, etc.
  6. More resources end up being used for one-one stuff (speech therapy, learning disabilities, etc.)
  7. More resources diverted to maintenance due to litter, vandalism, etc.
  8. Due to "No Child Left Behind", just about all your resources go to getting your "low-performing" students up to par, definitely at the expense of the non-low-performing students.

So a teacher walks into a 3rd grade classroom in a nice neighborhood and chances are that most of the kids are at least at the third grade level. All you have to do is get them to the fourth grade level and you've "performed" and get your bonus. In the bad neighborhoods, your kids aren't starting at the third grade level and two-thirds of your time is spent putting out fires. These kids have WAY more problems than a third grader should have, so any fair formula on teacher compensation needs to take this into consideration.

Edited by VernonDozier: n/a

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There is something (in fact a lot) to say for it, BUT it can also lead to artificially inflated grades.
A teacher who knows she's not doing a proper job may resort to handing kids grades higher than they deserve so she gets a higher salary or bonusses.

Unless strict safeguards are in place against that, the quality of education will therefore only degrade further as the grades kids get are no longer in any way (or even less than today) related in any way to their actual performance but only to the grades their teachers need to hand out in order to get maximum pay.

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There is something (in fact a lot) to say for it, BUT it can also lead to artificially inflated grades.
A teacher who knows she's not doing a proper job may resort to handing kids grades higher than they deserve so she gets a higher salary or bonusses.

Unless strict safeguards are in place against that, the quality of education will therefore only degrade further as the grades kids get are no longer in any way (or even less than today) related in any way to their actual performance but only to the grades their teachers need to hand out in order to get maximum pay.

In California there is the STAR testing and a school is judged on those results. They are standardized tests based on what students should know (whether the tests really are a good barometer is hotly contested) at every grade level. The school is graded by the test results. Certain levels of probation are imposed if the fail rate is over the minimum level as a percentage of students. They're shipped to the teachers by the state with strict rules of how they are to be administered and they are graded by the state, so unless a teacher out and out cheated and gave the kids the answers when she administered the test, they're pretty immune to grade inflation. A decent teacher performance test would be to give those STAR tests the first week of school, get the results, then give them again at the end of the year. If they improve, the teacher gets the bonus. That levels out the playing field.

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Thankfully this issue hasn't lead to bonuses (or lack thereof) in my region. The scores of the standardized tests (similar to what Vernon was talking about) do count for the schools stature in the state and district so it can affect things like funding.
The problem is that the "benchmarkers" think it is fair to include kids that have special needs and kids for whom English isn't a first language. Nothing at all against those groups but if you were designing a "fair" way of counting the test scores you'd want to weigh them separately.
So if you were a teacher in a school with mainstreamed special education students in an area with a large bilingual population you would be penalized instead of rewarded for what progress you did make. Doesn't make sense to me, IMHO of course.

(which doesn't at all say that teachers should have the right to be mediocre and get away with it...)

Edited by jonsca: n/a

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In California there is the STAR testing and a school is judged on those results. They are standardized tests based on what students should know (whether the tests really are a good barometer is hotly contested) at every grade level. The school is graded by the test results. Certain levels of probation are imposed if the fail rate is over the minimum level as a percentage of students. They're shipped to the teachers by the state with strict rules of how they are to be administered and they are graded by the state, so unless a teacher out and out cheated and gave the kids the answers when she administered the test, they're pretty immune to grade inflation. A decent teacher performance test would be to give those STAR tests the first week of school, get the results, then give them again at the end of the year. If they improve, the teacher gets the bonus. That levels out the playing field.

We have something similar here, though here the teachers' wages and bonusses aren't influenced by the results (the school's budget is, if they do well they get extra funding for things like new equipment and outings).

It works, schools thrive as a whole to get ratings up as they are published and schools that do poorly tend to loose pupils which again influences their budget (and may loose funding altogether in extreme cases).

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As a teacher, I can agree with a lot of the comments posted with regard to inherent problems with this 'formula'. I get paid a reasonable wage for the work I undertake. I work in a relatively deprived area, where students don't always have the access to the same resources (including parental input) as students from more affluent areas. Using statistics to show pupil performance is one thing, but correlating that to a teacher's performance is quite another. In one 'A level Chemistry' class I had 'good' students that achieved the top grades, but also had a number that failed to achieve the lowest grade. On paper the ones that 'failed' had the potential to achieve middling grades. The truth of the matter was that they returned to school as they didn't want to enter the jobs market. They had no interest in performing to their potential - too much like hard work. I was spending hours and hours reporting on their progress to parents and progress managers and conducting individual revision sessions and interviews. If my salary was hit by the performance of these time wasters, I'd be livid and should be within my rights to sue them!

Edited by diafol: n/a

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>>The truth of the matter was that they returned to school as they didn't want to enter the jobs market.

Maybe they should be taught a job marketable skill instead of college prep skills. Instead of chemistry teach them auto repair, iron working, welding, woodworking etc. They might get more interested in school if they can see that they will learn something useful.

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Instead of chemistry teach them auto repair, iron working, welding, woodworking etc. They might get more interested in school if they can see that they will learn something useful.

1. I am not qualified to teach welding, auto repair etc. They'd all fail - so I wouldn't get any salary then!!:icon_lol:
2. Are you saying that chemistry isn't useful? OK, so they don't want to be doctors, vets, pharmacists, etc. :icon_rolleyes:

The point is - it was THEIR choice. UK schools allow their post-16 students to choose from a range of subjects/courses (almost 30 in our case). These students are no longer in compulsory education. My hands are tied with regard to entry if they have the ability to pass the course. Borderline students on the other hand are at my discretion.

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No, teachers should not be paid based on their students' performance. Any accurate measure of performance is impossible to achieve, and teachers cannot force students to learn material, they only present the material. Teachers also cannot be held responsible for factors out of their control such as a wide variation of ability within their classroom. Standardized testing falls far short of "a good measurement of performance", and also encourage teachers to prepare for test questions rather than teach their students concepts that they think are important. Limiting a teacher's creativity in lesson planning can't be a good thing. Some students get good grades that are no fault of the teacher and some students get bad grades that are no fault of the teacher, possibly due to situations at home, other factors such as a dangerous learning place, a learning place with a lack of adequate materials, etc.

So, in response to Vernon, there is no reasonable formula. Such a thing does not exist and it is ridiculous to suggest that the same teacher might be able to make 50,000 one year and 35,000 the next year because of factors outside that teacher's control. My mother worked in the Baltimore city school system about 20 years ago, where she received numerous threats, had her car tires slashed, and eventually quit and went to work in the private school system. Should she have been paid poorly because she had many students that didn't wish to learn, even though she made her best effort to teach them in a bad environment?

Edited by BestJewSinceJC: n/a

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In some states marginal students are simply forced out to increase the test scores. What do we do with all those uncounted dropouts?

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They had no interest in performing to their potential - too much like hard work. If my salary was hit by the performance of these time wasters, I'd be livid and should be within my rights to sue them!

teachers cannot force students to learn material

Some students get good grades that are no fault of the teacher and some students get bad grades that are no fault of the teacher

There's dead weight who just have lousy attitudes wherever you go and there are people who will succeed through sheer perserverance whereever you go. I imagine we've all been unlucky and been stuck with dead weight losers and we've all been lucky and been paired with winners with great attitudes. You're 100% right. Some people will either perform or not perform no matter what you do and it isn't fair. It's certainly not unique to teaching. A lot of it is just luck of the draw and you'll have teachers with great classes one year and terrible ones the next year. Certain people either just make it or fail.

Everyone else is in the middle somewhere and that's where a teacher's performance kicks in. You play the hand you're dealt and do what you can and hopefully over the long haul your luck evens out and your bonuses even out to your actual skill level. It isn't a fool-proof idea, but it's better than nothing.

Standardized testing falls far short of "a good measurement of performance"

Gotta disagree with you on that one. There are obviously intangibles that can't be tested, but certain things can. It can be fairly well agreed upon what one needs to know after, say, first year algebra, and a very accurate test can be made to test this. You can either solve 3x + 2 = 17 or you cannot. Pretty easy to test. You can either calculate how long it takes for a train to get from Boston to New York or you cannot. Ditto with grammar and spelling. Some subjects are a lot harder to test, obviously.

and also encourage teachers to prepare for test questions rather than teach their students concepts that they think are important.

That's just a sign of a poorly designed test. A well designed test accurately tests what a student SHOULD learn so the teacher can teach to the test and still be teaching what they need to teach.

it is ridiculous to suggest that the same teacher might be able to make 50,000 one year and 35,000 the next year because of factors outside that teacher's control.

That would place them in good company with a lot of professions (real estate, construction, retail) where your annual pay has huge fluctuations. It would be pretty hard to plan a mortgage around that level of fluctuating salary, so maybe you could have five-year averages or something to smooth it out if you wanted.

Anyway, just about any bonus system would be unfair at some levels, but I think you could design one that is somewhat fair and that factors in these criteria. There's probably not a bonus system out there in any profession that's completely fair. The alternative is to not have any bonus system and pay everyone the same regardless of performance and I think that that is even more unfair.

Edited by VernonDozier: n/a

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In some states marginal students are simply forced out to increase the test scores. What do we do with all those uncounted dropouts?

In far more places their scores are artificially inflated in order to increase average test scores.
In some places I've read there's even an official policy to ensure average test scores across racial groups are the same. For example if black kids in a class on average get 50%, white kids 60%, the grades of all black kids are raised by 20% to match those of the rest in order to "prevent racism" (the reverse I guess would also be done).
In others they've abandoned the concept of kids failing altogether, effectively raising the minimum score you can get on a test to the lowest score needed to pass it.

What to do with dropouts? Forced education towards low-skill labour might work. Always need for gardeners, bricklayers, and people like that.
Right now few enter those professions because it's hard work for little pay, they'd rather be on the dole and live on state handouts all their life.
Force them to take up unskilled labour, or loose those handouts. The work is out there, now being filled by foreign "guest workers" and illegal immigrants.

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It's kind of amazing, seeing so many people reply with the same answers that the current education systems are somewhat borked. I'm curious as to how many of the repliers are teachers, besides Ardav. Normally I see people furious that teachers get paid too much to "babysit" their kids and how their salaries should be cut and their pensions taken away and other numerous punishments.

JWenting, I couldn't agree more with your idea on low-skilled labor, or even regular skilled labor. There's actually an alternate high school in my area that people can go to learn "technical skills" like auto repair, woodworking, hair styling, metalworking, etc... I think the kids that don't want to learn typical high school classes like English and math could benefit greatly from more schools like that which focus on trades rather than college prep classes.

Vernon, it would be all fine and good to have 5-year moving averages for teachers' salaries if that's what the educator expected going into the position, like real estate or commission based retail. But to go from a set salary to performance based could have disastrous results for teachers in under-performing schools and could even go so far as to pushing them out of education for a higher paying business job. What would happen to the teachers that are already in low paying districts that get hit with salary cuts because they're in charge of general level classes full of students who just don't care?

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I'm no teacher, could never survive in a job where I'd have to constantly restrain myself to not beat the crap out of lazy or annoying little buggers who refuse to maintain order or do their homework (let alone pay attention in class).

But I see a lot of people, and the standards to which they are educated are dropping with every new generation.
This can only mean the standards to which schools educate are declining.
I read the reports about students learning to be teachers being unable to complete the homework assignments they would hand out to their future pupils, which says a lot about the standards of teaching...
I see the highschool kids at checkout counters in the supermarket being slower to calculate change using their calculators than I can do it in my head.

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Just to ask Vernon:

What % of a teacher's salary would you put on examination results? Some years I have 2 A-level classes, 4 GCSE classes and a handful of non-examined classes. Other years, I may have a lot more non-examined classes and therefore less measurement of 'my success'. Sometimes I share a class with another teacher. Who takes the credit for a good result and vice-versa?

How do we measure success anyway? Most of our examination classes are 'streamed', so that the high-flyers go to one class, the next ability group to the next, etc. If you're unlucky one year, you could end up with a lot of the lower ability groups. Oh, well there goes the summer vacation to Spain!

Some argue that success is based on performance compared to expectation. This simply means that our primary schools award our incoming pupils the highest grades possible (they look great!) and we end up giving them more realistic targets so that we don't look like complete failures. It's a game. Everybody plays it, everybody moans about it. It goes on.

On a number of occasions, I've had to stand in as an emergency teacher for sick (long-term) colleagues and have had to blaze through the curriculum at light speed. Do I pick up the tab for that? I have also been asked to teach a number of subjects that are outside my speciality as a stop-gap due to problems with recruitment. Do I pick up the tab for a school's incompetence?

If you start penalising teachers for teaching in a poor area (poor results = poor pay), then those areas are going to suffer even more from problems with recruitment. Social inclusion will worsen and the vicious circle ensues.

With regard to fairness or parity - school managers and governors are the ones who should decide whether a member of staff should be awarded additional pay (e.g. for extra responsibilities). If a member of staff isn't pulling their weight, they can be disciplined. Schools can't afford poor teachers - teachers are far more accountable today compared to 5 years ago.

Edited by diafol: n/a

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well said
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It has to start somewhere, no? There always were problems with new implementations and there always will be. Change is iterative, change is subtle, change is hard but change is good. Just because trying out a new thing seems kind of impractical or difficult shouldn't be the only reason for not trying it out.

Does this new system of appraising teachers has even a tiny bit chance of improving the current education system or the way the teachers/students view the education system? If no, then that's that. If yes, then an attempt to roll in the new system in a crude way on a small scale be made. It would at least give us a rough estimate/idea as to how new things turn out to be; much better than thinking of the thousands of possible ways in which things might fail...

Edited by ~s.o.s~: n/a

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>Change is iterative, change is subtle, change is hard but change is good.

Not always. We've had numerous changes to curriculum over the last 10 years, without sufficient time to fine tune implementations. Once you think you've got a good programme of study, some dictat from a politician goes an orders a new change - and I'm not just talking minor adjustments. Pupils lose a year or so of 'good quality' education as they act as guinea pigs. Definitely not good.

Change is relative, not absolute.

Working around the problems I've outlined would not be a trivial matter. If a proposed solution is unworkable, is it 'moral' to force it through legislation? I can think of numerous ways to appraise teachers that do not rely on this proposed crude measure of success. A decision on whether a system can be tenable should involve the pros and cons, not just a blind principle. If there are 'a thousand ways' in which a system may fail, perhaps there is something wrong with the proposed system. Problems should be investigated thoroughly in order to derive a balanced view.

If I give a negative view of the profession, I apologise, this is not my intention. My work is extremely rewarding and I would urge anybody with the disposition to enter the profession.

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But to go from a set salary to performance based could have disastrous results for teachers in under-performing schools and could even go so far as to pushing them out of education for a higher paying business job...What would happen to the teachers that are already in low paying districts that get hit with salary cuts because they're in charge of general level classes full of students who just don't care?

Some years I have 2 A-level classes, 4 GCSE classes and a handful of non-examined classes. Other years, I may have a lot more non-examined classes and therefore less measurement of 'my success'. Sometimes I share a class with another teacher...If you're unlucky one year, you could end up with a lot of the lower ability groups. Oh, well there goes the summer vacation to Spain!

Like everyone else in the world, if your lifestyle needs require either more money and/or a more consistent level of money and your current job doesn't provide you with that, you quit that job and find one that does. There are countless jobs that have vastly fluctuating year to year bonuses. You get a way smaller bonus the years when the business as a whole does poorly and a way bigger bonus the years when the business as a whole does extremely well, and that's very often completely beyond your control. There is a fluctuation factor built into any bonus system.

This simply means that our primary schools award our incoming pupils the highest grades possible (they look great!) and we end up giving them more realistic targets so that we don't look like complete failures.

Bonuses would be based on less fudgable measurements like standardized tests given at the state level than GPA. That's the grade inflation that jwenting was talking about. Any decent bonus system has to have a method of preventing the teachers from assigning the scores that they themselves would get bonuses based upon. I think standardized tests solve that problem.

On a number of occasions, I've had to stand in as an emergency teacher for sick (long-term) colleagues and have had to blaze through the curriculum at light speed. Do I pick up the tab for that?

Every job involves some of that. I'm now the Joomla guy at work even though I wasn't hired to do that and I'm not that good at and I have no interest in it. But the guy who did it left and someone had to take his place. If I get a bonus based on my Joomla ability, I'm in trouble.

I have also been asked to teach a number of subjects that are outside my speciality as a stop-gap due to problems with recruitment. Do I pick up the tab for a school's incompetence?

One always pays a price for the incompetence of bosses and coworkers. At some point, if it gets intolerable, you change it if you can, you get rid of the dead weight if you can, and if you can't, you change jobs/companies/school districts so you aren't saddled with a whole bunch of incompetents who can only make your life miserable.

If you start penalising teachers for teaching in a poor area (poor results = poor pay), then those areas are going to suffer even more from problems with recruitment. Social inclusion will worsen and the vicious circle ensues.

Great point. In a functioning capitalistic society, when the recruitment goes down, the incentives must go up in order to get more recruits. Since teaching in the poor areas is way harder than teaching in the good areas, assuming that teachers are like most other employees, unless they are offered MORE pay to teach in the poor areas, all the good teachers will go to the good areas and teach there, get their bonus more easily, and have a much less stressful job. Seems to me that if we need to offer big bonuses anywhere, it's those poor areas where no one wants to teach in the first place. In any well-run business, that would happen or the business would go under. Since we can't close the schools, we have to completely get rid of this ridiculous system where you get paid $30 a day per pupil, regardless of what the pupil's special needs are and regardless of whether the pupil sleeps through every class.

With regard to fairness or parity - school managers and governors are the ones who should decide whether a member of staff should be awarded additional pay (e.g. for extra responsibilities).

Right. They're the ones who should be setting up the bonus systems in the first place, just like bosses in the business world. But apparently they aren't doing that.

If a member of staff isn't pulling their weight, they can be disciplined.

Nonsense. You get disciplined for showing up drunk or sleeping with a student or something like that. When was the last time a tenured teacher got disciplined for not pulling their weight? Lazy people all over the world have mastered the art of putting in the absolute minimal amount of effort and making sure they don't actually break any rules that they could get in trouble for.


Frankly you sound like a good teacher who cares and who would get the bonus. I would think you'd love this idea. Some years due to dumb luck you wouldn't, but odds are that you would. They just have to find a reasonable system that takes into account most of the objections you have. I don't think that's insurmountable.

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Vernon, you made some good points. A bonus system is feasible, and as long as there is some minimum salary in place, (which obviously for bonuses, there is) I don't have too many objections.

Great point. In a functioning capitalistic society, when the recruitment goes down, the incentives must go up in order to get more recruits. Since teaching in the poor areas is way harder than teaching in the good areas, assuming that teachers are like most other employees, unless they are offered MORE pay to teach in the poor areas, all the good teachers will go to the good areas and teach there, get their bonus more easily, and have a much less stressful job. Seems to me that if we need to offer big bonuses anywhere, it's those poor areas where no one wants to teach in the first place.

That point ignores the actual problem - the school environment caused by unruly behavior, a lack of respect for authority, and a lack of funds - and addresses the teacher's salary levels instead. Improving a teacher's salary will not improve the classroom environment, and will therefore not have the desired effect on a child's education. So all you'd be accomplishing is having better teachers in an environment where they are not capable of changing much. And that is only if the teachers are willing to move to a worse school system based on a better salary. What really needs to be done first is shift the attitude of students from viewing school as a requirement to a privilege, and get proper resources. I don't know how the first could even be done.

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Sorry Vern, have to disagree (obviously!) which the majority of your points.

I enjoy teaching lower ability students as much as (or even more than) the high flyers. I don't think I'd be as happy "doing my bit" if I was getting penalised for it - in fact I would resent it and put all my effort into helping the best kids. I'm a professional, which means I should get paid for the work I do, regardless of the the ability and background of the pupils. Lower ability classes are often more demanding than the high flyers. Teaching high ability kids is a breeze - not that challenging. You earn your money by ensuring that the other kids get a decent education.

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It seems that what most people on the outside don't realize about education is that the teacher isn't the single point of success or failure. The kids have to want to learn, and the PARENTS need to be just as involved as the teacher and student. From a younger age, kids need to be shown what a good education can do, instead of just being told they have to go to school and there are no ifs, ands or buts about it. I can't tell you how many times I've heard of parents blaming teachers for their child getting bad grades, not doing their homework and not making up missed tests/work. Parents can make a huge difference in their child's education, but many seem like they're too busy with work and their own life to worry about their kids' futures.

I know there are some teachers out there that work only for a paycheck as there are people in any profession, but the majority of teachers, both that I've had and I've met, care about the kids. If they didn't, they wouldn't be teaching but instead making more money in business. My wife has 2 degrees, one in math and one in physics. She could be making huge amounts of money if she worked as a mathematician or a physicist, but she teaches because she loves it and she cares about the kids. Once you start taking away perks and decent salaries and replacing that with punishment and student performance-based compensation, especially for lower class tracks, you start losing qualified and caring teachers because they're being stiffed for the extremely hard work they're putting in.

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Have to say, nice comments Soda.

I am amazed that a few posters here think that bonus payments are the answer to everything. Is this due to being brought up with the 'tipping culture' or in an ultra-right nation?

Nonsense. You get disciplined for showing up drunk or sleeping with a student or something like that. When was the last time a tenured teacher got disciplined for not pulling their weight? Lazy people all over the world have mastered the art of putting in the absolute minimal amount of effort and making sure they don't actually break any rules that they could get in trouble for.

When was the last time a tenured teacher got disciplined for not pulling their weight? It happens on a daily basis. If they aren't sacked (depending on the problem), they can have their responsibility points taken away from them, they can be suspended, demoted, they can be put on a probationary period and they can receive cumulative verbal/written warnings, etc etc. There are a number of different sanctions open to schools that have teachers that don't pull their weight. Schools do not broadcast these 'internal procedures', but they are there.

I'd find the habit of sacking poor teachers (which should happen anyway) far more palatable, than introducing this bonus stuff. It should cost the taxpayer hell of a lot less money as well. Do you think that paying bonuses would make a poor teacher into a better teacher? You could pay me a million pounds a year in bonuses, but I swear to you, I couldn't do more than I'm doing now and I suggest that that is true of the majority of us. You'd just be throwing money away.

If I may ask Vern, do you have experience of the education system, as opposed to just passing through it?

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I enjoy teaching lower ability students as much as (or even more than) the high flyers. I don't think I'd be as happy "doing my bit" if I was getting penalised for it...

A good bonus system wouldn't penalize you for teaching lower ability kids. Actually, it would encourage it. You might be a great teacher as are many others, but there are also plenty of teachers out there who waste class time etc and they are difficult to discipline. How can you discipline a teacher who is technically doing his/her job, but all he/she is doing is reading out of the textbook, etc, and not being engaging? I've had plenty of teachers like that.

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I don't think I'd be as happy "doing my bit" if I was getting penalised for it - in fact I would resent it and put all my effort into helping the best kids.

Where is this "getting penalized" concept coming from? I don't know about anyone else's system, but if I were designing the system (obviously it wouldn't be me doing it in real life) the bonuses would be slanted towards people like yourself who willingly teach the non-high-ability kids. You're getting penalized NOW by not having the bonus system. I'm suggesting we correct that by slanting it by giving people like you higher bonuses and more money per pupil.

Lower ability classes are often more demanding than the high flyers. Teaching high ability kids is a breeze - not that challenging. You earn your money by ensuring that the other kids get a decent education.

We agree 100% here. I think that's why most people try to go for the high-ability kids. It's human nature. You apparently purposely seek out the non-high-performing kids to help and that's fantastic, but I think that you're a minority. Most teachers, like most people, when faced with a choice between an easier, less stressful job for the same compensation, will go for that easier job. It's just human nature. The high-performing schools thus can pick and choose and the low-performing schools end up with whoever is left over. There are a whole bunch of exceptions to this rule, but I think it's accurate to see that as a group, the teachers at the high-performing schools are better.

Edited by VernonDozier: n/a

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I am amazed that a few posters here think that bonus payments are the answer to everything. Is this due to being brought up with the 'tipping culture' or in an ultra-right nation?

Who on this thread even hinted that bonuses were the answer to everything? I'm definitely not right-wing and I don't know what ultra-right nation you're referring to. It couldn't possibly be the U.S., could it? ;)

It happens on a daily basis.

Not here (Northern California) it doesn't.

I'd find the habit of sacking poor teachers (which should happen anyway)

Yes, it definitely should happen anyway, but not to beat the point to death, it definitely doesn't happen here. When a teacher gets disciplined around here, it's from some scandal that embarrasses everyone. You don't get disciplined for being an incompetent teacher. We need to get your administrators to come here and fire some people.

Do you think that paying bonuses would make a poor teacher into a better teacher?

Possibly. It might motivate someone to try harder or it might attract talented people not currently in the industry.

You could pay me a million pounds a year in bonuses, but I swear to you, I couldn't do more than I'm doing now and I suggest that that is true of the majority of us. You'd just be throwing money away.

Something tells me that if teachers got a million pound bonus for delivering high test scores, they'd find a way to do it. The dead weight teachers would be handled by their fellow teachers, who would band together and make their lives so miserable that they'd quit. Ditto for the administrators. And probably ditto for the dead-weight students and the dead-weight parents of those kids. You're talking a million pounds here.

If I may ask Vern, do you have experience of the education system, as opposed to just passing through it?

Yup, a real crash and tumble one. I started on a teacher's credential to teach math in Oakland, CA in 2001, one of the worst school districts in California. 2001 was a particularly bad year for a brand new teacher because the state was finally so fed up that it was put into receivership (I’m not 100% sure the exact timeline of when the receivership was put into effect, but I know that it either happened that year or they found out that year that it was going to happen and made some dramatic freezes of new hires). How any administrator kept his/her job in that district that year is beyond me, because there wasn’t a piece of paper that they didn’t lose anywhere in that giant bureaucracy. The long and short of it was that I was offered a full time position at a high school, but that job was yanked at the last moment since it was apparently offered in the first place without funding. So I went scrambling and actually became a substitute teacher, then went back to school part-time and continued to sub while going to school. I never had my own class for more than a month in duration, but I had a few of those and I had a few summer school classes that were mine from start to finish. More often the job was for a couple of days.

So I got to see a lot more schools and a lot more age levels and ability levels than I would have if I had had a regular class. Being a sub is a pretty lousy job. They have more, shall we say, more disciplinary problems. But the whole thing’s one big discipline problem, even for the regular teachers, especially in a place like Oakland. I can visualize Best Jew Since JC’s mom’s scenario perfectly in Oakland. If you can actually get a safe classroom with kids who all want to be there ad you have all the textbooks/chalk/interpreters you need, that’s half the battle. Hell, that’s three-quarters of the battle.

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Where is this "getting penalized" concept coming from? I don't know about anyone else's system, but if I were designing the system (obviously it wouldn't be me doing it in real life) the bonuses would be slanted towards people like yourself who willingly teach the non-high-ability kids. You're getting penalized NOW by not having the bonus system. I'm suggesting we correct that by slanting it by giving people like you higher bonuses and more money per pupil.

It won't, in fact can't, work like that.
1) base salary would drop, penalising everyone.
2) with the average bonus, a teacher would end up at about what his prior base salary was
3) any system that identifies "low ability kids" as such WILL be classed as discriminatory as it always identifies a large proportion of kids from minority backgrounds (mainly blacks and in Europe north Africans). This is shown time and again. It will hence be abandoned as discrimination, and compensation regulated to be equal irrespective of the "inherent quality" of the raw material.

3) is in a way happening here already. It's got to the point where there are plans to FORCE parents to send their kids to "black schools" if they're white, in order to raise the average quality of kids in those schools ("black schools" are schools with a predominantly black pupil population, which happen to also be schools with universally abysmal records in education results).
This in violation of laws allowing free choice of school, political correctness and being seen to "do something" about discrimination (blacks choose to send their kids to those schools because of the high black population, white people keep theirs away because of the poor education they would get their, but are called racist for doing so of course) trump abiding by the law.

We agree 100% here. I think that's why most people try to go for the high-ability kids. It's human nature. You apparently purposely seek out the non-high-performing kids to help and that's fantastic, but I think that you're a minority. Most teachers, like most people, when faced with a choice between an easier, less stressful job for the same compensation, will go for that easier job. It's just human nature. The high-performing schools thus can pick and choose and the low-performing schools end up with whoever is left over. There are a whole bunch of exceptions to this rule, but I think it's accurate to see that as a group, the teachers at the high-performing schools are better.

Most teachers go where the job satisfaction is.
If they find that in teaching kids who want to be taught but have learning difficulties (and I think many do) that's where they go.
Indeed a lot will not willingly teach the little classroom terrorists who are utterly disinterested in learning anything and just cause trouble (including in extreme cases physical and sexual assault against fellow pupils and teachers, and generally disturbing the peace in ways that would get them arrested were they adults and the setting not a schoolyard but a public street).

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