by Max Brantley
The Education Commission of the States has issued a new report on teacher merit pay. It's timely because the Obama administration is moving vigorously to push merit pay use into more states with financial incentives.
The report, funded by GE, couldn't be more gentle in laying out its findings, but you don't need a magnifying glass to read between the lines. There's precious little to show on the value of merit pay in the deep studies that have been done and only some scattered positive signs in programs that haven't been rigorously evaluated. "Mixed," is this report's bottom line, an assessment that seems to me too generous for the facts contained. Even if merit pay did work, the report notes, sources of financing are slim.
The conclusion tips the hand of where the "reformers" go next — and it's a direction the Waltons will cheer and finance:
Most of today’s PFP [pay for performance] models supplement, but do not replace current salary schedules. Some emerging PFP models are based on replacing, in whole, existing state educator salary schedules with PFP measures (e.g., Indiana, Ohio). Future impact studies of these new models should prove noteworthy
In other words, pay every single teacher based on student test scores — or some evaluator's grade of their work. I say we consider that the minute the Waltons put their billions to work to pass corporate governance legislation that insures performance based pay for corporate executives, starting with bankers, and accountability to shareholders.