Moi thinks that effective teachers should be rewarded for their performance in the classroom. Dick Startz’s article, Let’s Pay Our Teachers A Whole Lot More at Crosscut makes that point.
Having good teachers is the single most important controllable factor in student achievement. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has had the privilege of learning from an exceptional teacher — or, for that matter, has suffered through a terrible one. Rigorous research shows that the difference between having consistently good teachers and just OK teachers can be enormous, resulting in an entire year’s worth of additional learning by high school graduation.
The bad news is that U.S. schools are not up to par, neither in comparison to our own expectations and history, nor to other countries. The good news is that teacher quality isn’t dependent on the forces of nature or divine intervention. It is firmly under our control. As an economist who has spent the last few years gathering the latest research and data, I offer a simple proposal in my new book, Profit of Education. We have to start treating teaching as a profession, and not as an act of sainthood.
In concrete terms, I argue that we should boost teacher pay significantly, and allocate that raise disproportionately to teachers who do the best job of increasing student achievement. This will simultaneously attract more of the best and brightest into the teaching profession, and once they are there will give them the motivation and support they need to do what’s best for their students. As I describe in detail in Profit, we can do this ways that incentivize whole schools to work together and that doesn’t disadvantage low-achieving students. My estimate is that we can increase average student achievement by the equivalent of a whole extra year of learning.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given my background, the principles that underpin the Profit proposal are drawn from studying the broader economy. The way to build a great organization — whether private, public, or not-for-profit — is to recruit and retain great people. That means paying them a competitive wage, and expecting good work in return.
The fact that a teacher has certification or a higher degree like a masters does not guarantee that they are an effective teacher.
In Good Teachers Need Strong Subject Matter Knowledge moi said
The Guide to Teacher Quality lists several key attributes of a quality teacher:
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT TEACHER QUALITY
• Experience is very important. The ability of a new teacher to support student learning
increases greatly during his/her first year of teaching and continues to grow through at least the
first several years of teaching (Clotfelter, Ladd & Vigdor, 2007; Clotfelter, Ladd & Vigdor, 2004;
Hanushek et al., 1998).
• Teacher attrition matters. Districts and schools with relatively high rates of teacher
attrition are likely to have more inexperienced teachers and, as a result, instructional quality
and student learning suffer (Alliance for Quality Teaching, 2008).
• Ability matters. Teachers with higher scores on college admission or licensure tests as well
as those from colleges with more selective admission practices are better able to support student
learning (Gitomer, 2007; Rice, 2003; Wayne and Youngs, 2003; Reichardt, 2001; Ferguson
& Ladd, 1996; Greenwald, Hedges & Laine, 1996).
• Teachers’ subject matter knowledge helps students learn. Students learn when their
teacher knows the subject, particularly in secondary science and mathematics (Floden &
Meniketti, 2006; Rice, 2003; Wayne and Youngs, 2003; Reichardt, 2001).
• Preparation and training in how to teach makes a difference. Knowing how to teach
improves student learning, particularly when a teacher is in his/her first years of teaching (Rice,
2003; Allen, 2003; Boyd, Grossman, Lankford, Loeb & Wyckoff, 2005).
• Teacher diversity may also be important. There is emerging evidence that students learn
better from teachers of similar racial and ethnic background (Dee, 2004; Dee, 2001; Hanushek
et al. 1998).
One of the important attributes is the subject matter knowledge of the teacher.
We definitely want teachers with strong subject matter knowledge, but the answer is not as simple as just testing teachers. Candidates with strong academic achievement must be recruited to the profession. Schools of Education must have rigorous programs which challenge potential teachers. Finally, there should be strong programs for career switchers with strong subject matter knowledge to enter the teaching profession. See, Troops to Teachers Yes, Yes, Yes, Update: Troops to Teachers, Yes, Yes, Yes and Another Well, Duh, Good Teachers Help a Child to Read
Donna Gordon Blankinship of AP is reporting at SeattlePI.Com that some economists want to stop paying teachers a bonus for masters degrees. In the article, Economists Want to Stop Teachers Degree Bonuses Blankinship reports:
Every year, American schools pay more than $8.6 billion in bonuses to teachers with master’s degrees, even though the idea that a higher degree makes a teacher more effective has been mostly debunked.
Despite more than a decade of research showing the money has little impact on student achievement, state lawmakers and other officials have been reluctant to tackle this popular way for teachers to earn more money.
That could soon change, as local school districts around the country grapple with shrinking budgets.
Just this week, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the economy has given the nation an opportunity to make dramatic improvements in the productivity of its education system and to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
Duncan told the American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday that master’s degree bonuses are an example of spending money on something that doesn’t work.
On Friday, billionaire Bill Gates took aim at school budgets and the master’s degree bonus.
“My own state of Washington has an average salary bump of nearly $11,000 for a master’s degree – and more than half of our teachers get it. That’s more than $300 million every year that doesn’t help kids,” he said.
“And that’s one state,” said Gates, the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, at a speech Friday in Louisville to the Council of Chief State School Officers. Gates also took aim at pensions and seniority.
“Of course, restructuring pay systems is like kicking a beehive,” he acknowledged.
1. A Review of the Literature Regarding Teacher’s Subject Matter Knowledge
2. The Importance of Teacher Disposition
3. The Guide to Teacher Quality
4. Teacher Quality
5. What Comprises High Quality Teacher Education?
6. Educational Testing Services’ Where We Stand on Teacher Quality
7. Washington Education Coordinating Board Improving Teacher Quality
Dr. Wilda may be contacted at [email protected]
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