Monday, April 13, 2009

What Happens to Student Teaching Under Performance Pay Schemes?

I was reading about student teaching the other day, and a thought occurred to me: what happens to student teaching under performance pay schemes? If you were a teacher and your salary depended upon how many points your students gained on the state test this year, how willing would you be to a.) spend your time training a student teacher instead of helping your students, and b.) let a student teacher take charge of lessons in your classroom.

I don't see any way that test-based performance pay and student teaching can successfully coexist. If the teacher is motivated by the incentive being offered, then they're also going to be less willing to let a student teacher spend time with their class -- unless, of course, they're convinced that the student teacher is at least as good at teaching as they are. If they don't care about the incentive and they're not motivated by it, then they should be as willing as ever to let a student teacher take charge but the performance pay plan won't really be succeeding if it's not motivating teachers to do more and do better.

If performance pay is based on factors other than test scores, of course, then the dilemma can be dealt with.


JSS said...

Two related thoughts -- teachers might be more motivated to work with student teachers because whether or not the s.t.'s are perceived to be good teachers, the teacher might welcome assistance in any form in the classroom so that she/he can focus on the lesson or helping students that need extra help.

Also, how interesting that student teachers might throw yet another wrench in the straight line that some want to draw between teacher quality and test scores: what if it's the presence or skills of the s.t. that cause scores to rise? I don't suppose they'd allow the s.t. to cash in too. I can envision a situation where a mediocre teacher monetarily benefits from the presence of a stellar s.t.

Roger Sweeny said...

Perhaps teachers who take student teachers should get a stipend, like teachers who coach the volleyball team. For all I know, they do already.

Corey Bunje Bower said...

Julie: Yes, it could go both ways -- though I'd expect the mentor teacher to more often be the better of the two

RS: Yes, that's a possibility, but it wouldn't solve the problem of trying to accurately measure the performance of that particular teacher

Anonymous said...

Performance pay or merit pay cannot be based solely on test scores. Progress on tests must be consider. Things like mentoring students and other teachers, introducing new technology, etc. should also be factored in. You wouldn't base police performance on how many tickets they gave, or a doctor's on how many patients they saw. To get a proper evaluation a number of factors must be weighed