Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Precedented Scale of Race to the Top

Tennessee -- eligible for $150 - $250 million from RttT:

The city school board is expected to sign an agreement today with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that will funnel more than $90 million to Memphis for a plan to change how teachers are hired, placed, evaluated and retained.

Pennsylvania -- eligible for $200 - $400 million:

In what officials said would be the largest grant ever made directly to the Pittsburgh Public Schools, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has offered the district $40 million for sweeping initiatives to maximize teacher effectiveness.

Florida -- eligible for $350 to $700 million:

TAMPA — The finish line is in sight for the Hillsborough County School District, which agreed Tuesday to accept a $100 million teacher effectiveness grant if the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation offers it.

And remember...

AUSTIN – For the $300 million spent on merit pay for teachers over the last three years, Texas was hoping for a big boost in student achievement.

But it didn't happen with the now-defunct program, according to experts hired by the state.

Second verse, same as the first...


June said...

Hi Tom,
I always enjoy reading your thoughts on education happenings. However, for the teacher pay part of this post, I will just point out that the research findings don't suggest that "merit pay" is a bad thing. I would think how merit pay is done has a big impact on whether we'll see any improvements in student achievement. I'll quote from the article you linked:

QUOTE: "Lori Taylor of Texas A&M, one of the authors of the study, said one possible cause of the program's failure was that bonuses were relatively small and were given to most teachers at each school – about 70 percent – so that the incentive for individual teachers to push for higher scores was "relatively weak."

In addition, campuses that qualified already had to be higher performers, so it was difficult to register much improvement. "There were no significant declines at the schools, but there were no significant improvements, either," Taylor said." END QUOTE

So if you spend $300 million to give the majority of teachers (70%) about $2000, where does merit pay come in? In addition, if the money is only spent at already high achieving schools, how much more gain could we expect?

I wonder if we gave teachers $10,000-15,000 bonuses to a smaller proportion who see student test score gains, and we do this in the poorest, lowest achieving schools.... we'd probably see a much better effect of a "merit pay" policy.

I just want to be balanced and fair about the findings. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

If there's money for big bonuses for a few, there's money for smaller raises for all.

I'll take the non-insulting option 2, thank you.


June said...

I don't think option 1 is insulting at all. Getting bonuses for doing a good job sounds pretty reasonable to me, and it is increasingly more reasonable for new teachers.

Anonymous said...

Notice that your commenter (who is really out of place trying to decide what is or what is not insulting) points to new teachers agreeing with her.

Not all teachers. New teachers.

In shorthand: 1. divides us/ 2. anti-experience/ 3. encourages short careers ending in burn out.

June said...

Jonathan, very nice spin job. I prefer not to devolve into personal insults... "out of place?", your comment is pretty out of place given that you don't know me. I'll give you a start, I'm not a "her".

In the spirit of rational discussion, I will just mention that I shared that link with you and others to merely point out that not everyone shares your point of view, even individuals within the teaching profession.

I'm amazed at how easily you're willing to dismiss "new teachers" as to what... "old teachers"? These new teachers are bright young individuals who are entering your profession. Shouldn't we take their ideas as seriously as we take your ideas?

Anyone reading this comment thread can make their own conclusions about who is being insulting and out of place here. The person who appeals to data and evidence, and addresses their discussants by name? Or the person who never refers to the other person, while spewing inflammatory remarks and appealing to base fears and irrational talking points. I'll break my own rule this once and offer one negative thought about you: You'd do well as a Fox News personality or Sarah Palin's running mate.

If you want to have a decent conversation about this, I'd suggest moving off of your defensiveness and provide some logical thoughts on why you oppose merit pay ideas. I'm quite open to hearing and considering them, and I'm sure it would be quite educational for anyone who comes across this post. Thanks.

And thanks Tom again for the post, you might have quite some activity on here. ;)