The Little Rock School District distributed today a news release about the results of merit pay projects at five district elementary schools. Bottom line: Fair to poor. Some scores up, some down. Credit Superintendent Roy Brooks for not overselling these results. They are generating "important data," he notes.
If merit pay -- bonuses slavishly linked to standardized test scores -- was a panacea, it would work uniformly everywhere, would it not? Maybe principal and teacher quality matter. Maybe, and there's no data in the release that addresses this, student body composition -- race, economic background, parental education background -- also matter.
Here's the release for your perusal and thoughts. Note the language that says "most" LRSD schools showed little year to year change on test scores. I've asked for the full list to discover other outliers. Note, too, the huge discrepancy in bonuses within schools, from none to $7,000 for a single teacher. The teachers with good results are worthy of study, and not only for teaching methods. Does class composition matter? Are tests full indicator of performance? And, yes, let's be sure tests were taken and scored honestly.
A further analysis is to come from the University of Walton's Walton School of Education Reform where the Walton Endowed Professor of Education Reform can be expected soon to issue a glowing report. For further information, you can also call Luke Gordy, the Walton subsidiary who heads a private foundation that supports merit pay, charter school and other Waltonian education ideas. Or check tomorrow's Democrat-Gazette editorial page for the triumphant news. This is the program also underwritten by publisher Walter Hussman, another proponent of right-wing educanto.
UPDATE: The LRSD has not responded to my FOI for all school data so that merit pay schools' results may be compared with other schools.