Hassels On Teacher Pay

Or hassles on teacher pay, you decide. The NGA has a new paper out by Emily and Bryan Hassel about pay for contribution schemes* for teachers (pdf).

Two points: First, in the venue matters department, this paper matters. Second, this debate has come a long way in a pretty short time…when Bryan Hassel published this paper in 2002 it was considered heretical.

*Paging George Lakoff!

Update: The Hassels give a longer summary of the paper and more on why it matters below in the comments. What I implied above but should have made clear is that the debate has shifted onto a “how” footing and this paper helps inform that.

2 Replies to “Hassels On Teacher Pay”

  1. A note from the Hassels / hassles:

    Nearly all of the prior writing about pay has been stuck in a swirl of hypothesis (at best), opinion, and – most typically – political posturing. While limited research in education has begun, the field continues to ignore the large body of high-quality research from other sectors about how to use pay to get results. We actually know quite a lot, from rigorous quantitative research across sectors, about how to use pay to get better performance. And so our new paper from NGA isn’t just another opinion piece – we’re drawing on that research to help governors and others craft pay plans that actually work.

    For example, the cross-sector research makes very clear that pay for performance has a significant positive effect on organizational results – it’s next to impossible to find credible counter-evidence. The positive effects come not just from improved results by current staff: performance pay also disproportionately attracts higher performers to enter jobs. School providers and districts that stick with the status quo are missing a proven – not hypothetical – chance to boost kids’ learning.

    So the debate now really shouldn’t be about whether to move toward performance pay in education, but how. This paper crisply summarizes that body of knowledge about “how.” For example, substantial research indicates that performance pay plans that get the best results provide substantial payoffs (i.e., not the token amounts many edu plans include now), and reward high-average (not just stellar) performers. Bonuses work better than performance-based salary increases. And so on.

    There’s more in the paper – and not just on pay for performance, but on other kinds of “pay for contribution” as well, like getting results from paying more in hard to staff schools. Please take a look at let us know what you think.

  2. I think researchers forget the obvious fact that teaching is a field full of touchy feely do-gooders who may or may not respond well to your business industry norms.

    What other business has so many women … of a similar background and usually a similar set of values… locked in a building together all day?

    I’d be a lot more convinced if you found an industry dominated by females with a social service mentality and then told me that incentive pay worked. Social workers, maybe? Nurses?

    I’m not saying incentive pay is out. I’m just saying… Wake up. Pay is hardly the be all/end all of those who seek teaching. Although I would add that in Texas, like in many states, we spend too much money on the bottom end of the scale and not enough to compensate experienced successful professionals.

    What’s the result of bottom loading the system? Attracting people who eventually quit and losing single mothers who can’t pay the bills on $45K.

    Most teachers, I think, would prefer a collaborative, rather than competitive, environment. I think it’s far more credible to start there and build a system. I think many teachers are governed by a sense that they want, more than anything else, something that is fair to everyone involved.

    Is that true of other industries? Maybe. Maybe not.

    And by attracting higher performers, you mean… those people who would prefer to make big bucks? Why do we want these people in teaching anyway? You think they would put up with what most teachers do every day out of their natural altruistic bent? Maybe. Maybe not.

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