So, merit pay for teachers doesn’t seem to be working in Chicago. Reminds me that paying students for good grades in New York City didn’t work either. However, who here took notice of recent studies done in Dallas and Washington? The Manhattan Institute’s Marcus Winters had an interesting take on this recently. An excerpt:
Rather than rewarding students for their learning outcomes, programs in these cities paid students for engaging in behaviors related to learning. Washington’s kids earned cash for attendance, good conduct, wearing their school uniforms, and doing their homework. Second-grade students in Dallas were offered $2 for every book that they could prove they read by passing a computer-based comprehensive quiz (there was a limit of 20 books per student).
Paying students to engage in constructive academic behavior proved remarkably effective. To put the results into context, paying students to read books had an impact on reading achievement equivalent to reducing class sizes by a third.
So how about this experiment? Don’t pay teachers for the test results of their students. Instead, pay them for “behaviors related to” teaching. Maybe a little extra for posting lesson plans and homework on a website each week, sending home individual feedback (including positive reports, not just warnings) to each family once a week, or holding set “office hours” before or after school? Then, track students' test results. I'd gamble on a statistical improvement.