|Oh the Effectiveness!|
Hey guess what everybody, Governor Cuomo has a great new idea. He's going to give cash bonuses to "Highly Effective teachers!" Whoooo-hooo bitches, stake out that in ground pool and start sizing up some rims for the new H-2. It's ON now!
Of course I kid. As if the educationally unsound Commissioner of NYSED and his Dragon Empress Tisch hadn't all ready proved to the entire state that they are going to do exactly as they damned well please in spite of what the proles and peasants think, their Grand Imperial Wizard has nailed the coffin of New York State's educational doom with his brilliant idea to trot out one of the oldest hustles in the book. What's really telling about Sheriff Andy's "merit pay" scam though is that there is a surfeit of data available on the subject. Yes, the data fetishists have actually chosen a dodge that comes with a ton of data all of which points to one inescapable conclusion : Merit pay doesn't work. It hasn't worked, it doesn't work and it will not work. Ahhh but what are simple facts in the rarefied air of the Cuomosphere? Sheriff Andy's popularity pants are on fire about now and he's desperate to make some lame gesture that will save his princely buttocks from the inferno of public disdain. Isn't it ironic that they insist on using horribly tortured and manipulated data against teachers and kids but when a sea of legitimate data contradicts their own moronic proposals they are content to simply pretend it doesn't exist and expect everyone else to do likewise?
So Gubner Andy without a whiff of irony trots out one of the most trite, stupid and scandal prone tricks in the old ed reform book, embraced by flaming educational failures like Rhee, Bloomberg and Duncan. I am not sure if he could have come up with anything more insulting to the basic intelligence of New Yorkers if he hired 3 geniuses and put them in a room. Aside from parent outrage against Common Core, there was an equal amount of spleen vented against the value put on standardized testing, the time wasted prepping for tests, the valuable enrichment activities kids are missing out on because of test prep and the use of test scores in teacher evaluations. Testing is a huge sore spot among parents. They made this quite clear as did teachers. And in typically tone deaf New York State rhetoric Cuomo comes along with the stunningly shiftless and profoundly stupid notion that he can tie one more thing to test scores - merit pay bonuses!
Here's a piece about a guy named Daniel Pink who fled politics to write best selling books. His area of expertise is employee motivation. He offers a few words on Governor Cuomo's latest cerebral flatus :
“It doesn’t work.” “Rewards are very effective for some things — simple things, mechanical things,” he explains. “But for complicated jobs that require judgment and creativity, the evidence shows that it just doesn’t work very well.” Teaching, of course, is one of those jobs." BOOM.
In 2010, the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University published what it termed the first scientifically rigorous study of merit pay for teachers. Researchers found that teachers in the Nashville public schools who were offered bonuses of up to $15,000 a year for improved student scores on standardized tests made no greater gains than teachers who were not offered merit pay.
Tangible, extrinsic rewards can dampen intrinsic motivation, Pink said, noting that these findings have been repeated in dozens of experiments over the decades. “The science on this is robust,” he said. “And it’s also among the most ignored.” Entire article here.
As long as they haven't learned, heard or figured it out yet allow me to repeat : These findings have been repeated in dozens of experiments over the decades. The science on this is robust. And it's also among the most ignored. WOW. Does Sheriff Andy think bumping up the figure by $5K will make it work in New York?
Who would IGNORE this robust science? Better yet WHY would they do so? Well take a good look at the people doing the ignoring and then take a look at the rest of their manifesto. They want to believe teaching is no more than hustling used cars. They are convinced if you tack a $20 spiff to the bulletin board teachers will go out there and lie, kill and maim to get the sale. It doesn't work of course as teaching involves many complex interactions with all sorts of different ability levels, learning preferences, frustration tolerances, language barriers, judgement, creativity, empathy and God knows what else. Teaching is more complex than manipulating a guy into paying for an undercoating package he doesn't need and an extended warranty that won't cover any of his car's real issues. There's more to it folks and everybody knows it. The people who want to pretend they don't know any better about merit pay ask everyone to play dumb, to aww shucks and gee whillikers up a storm as they trot out a failed concept and pretend with criminal disingenuousness to take great interest in its outcome. It's just plain cynical and it sucks.
Historically we've seen New Coke, the Edsel, Betamax, The Arch Deluxe, all miserable failures who were allowed to flop and were properly buried. Bad ideas though are not as easy to kill especially when they are put forward by the ruling class and dressed up to look like thoughtful gifts to teachers and to children who will all benefit from the fresh rigor they will infuse into the classrooms. Merit pay is a turd like The Hindenburg and The Titanic. Maybe the advocate for students should update his playbook, he seems to be stuck in FAIL mode. It has never worked anywhere and it won't work here either. Try again Gubner.
If Cuomo wants to start his research any of THESE ideas would be better than his latest.