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Monday, October 31, 2005

Teacher Incentives

I found this article and though it was an interesting idea, especially through the lens of economic efficiency. It seems to me that the current pay structure for teachers in the k-12 system encourages apathy on the part of the teachers, since pay is not directly related to performance; this strikes me as an inefficient way to assure good teaching through the incentive of pay.

From an economic efficiency perspective it makes sense to have pay related to performance, because it creates an incentive to achieve positive results, and could also encourage ingenuity in achieving those results. It seems to me that most professions base pay on performance rather than seniority, though I could be mistaken in that judgment. Such a system makes the most sense if the goal is economic efficiency. After all, seniority has little to do with actual achievement of a job, so, in order to be efficient, pay should not increase only in relation to seniority.

I wonder that Teachers' Unions have resisted performance based pay? What motivation is there for resisting this? One person mentioned that fair treatment is the goal of the Unions. It seems to me, on initial evaluation, that performance based pay is a way to treat people fairly, however there is one problem with the system being proposed. Though this does not really entirely answer my question, I think it is worth some thought. Apparently the teachers' evaluations would be at least partially based on their principal, so if there is a personal problem with the principal and the teacher this could cause some difficulty in creating an actual evaluation of performance, which would be necessary for a performance based pay system to insure efficiency in the system.

If there was a more concrete way to measure teachers’ performance, such as test results, it would seem that performance based pay would be an excellent way to help achieve the goal of efficiency in our k-12 school system. Perhaps it could also serve as yet another way to make sure that school funds are used efficiently as well, which could help alleviate some of the perceived financial pressure on the system right now.

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