A little more on teacher pay

Yglesias hits the same finding with a more thorough explanation of what I was only implicitly getting at:

As Pearlstein writes “presuming that merit pay alone would elevate student achievement makes sense if you assume teachers have a hidden trove of skills and effort they are not unloosing on their students only because they lack the proper incentives to do so.” I don’t think that was ever a very psychologically plausible account of what’s happening in American classrooms…

The idea here wouldn’t so much be to create an “incentive” as simply to ensure that the best teachers aren’t tempted to leave the profession while the worst teachers are encouraged to do so. If you want to do something through a bonus/incentive mechanism, what would make sense is to offer teachers extra money to take on challenging assignments in high poverty schools.

The point is that an absolutely flat salary structure makes no sense. Instead, we prefer to rely on proxies for quality. Currently, we use length of service and possession of a master’s degree as our proxies. But the evidence suggests that these are bad proxies and that value-added metrics, despite their flaws, are better.

Which I had said all that myself.  But, I suppose quoting Yglesias is close enough.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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