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Sec of Education Arne Duncan on merit pay (to the NEA in an interview) [View All]

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dsc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-28-09 11:55 AM
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Sec of Education Arne Duncan on merit pay (to the NEA in an interview)
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Merit pay based on test scores is not equal pay for equal work. In my school, teachers have to do a lot more than they would if it were a middle class school. Teachers pay shouldnt depend on student scores.

Victoria Siegel
Speech/language specialist, Oakland, California

Secretary Duncan: Im a big believer in rewarding gain, not absolute test scores. If you look at gain, it really levels the playing field. If youre just looking at absolute test scores, I think you can create some real inequities.

And test scores should always be a measure, but not the measure.

In Chicago, we created a model that, actually, the best teachers in the system came up with. It really incented progress. It looked at a variety of factors, including test scores, but it was by no means limited to that. We did two things: Teachers would be rewarded based upon their students, but also upon the school improvement. You want to encourage teachers to work together and collaborate. Where these things never work is when youre pitting one teacher against another and everyone shuts down.

And also, every adult in the building was part of the successcustodians, lunchroom attendants, social workers, security guardsnot just teachers. In very high performing schools, its absolutely every adult building a culture of high expectations.

A lot of it was based on the Teacher Advancement Project, which is a national program thats partnered with unions.

We only put it into schools where 75 percent or more of the teachers wanted the program. Over 120 schools showed interest. So there was a tremendous amount of interest amongst the teaching ranks.

Theres a real level of complexity. Ive seen a lot of these programs not work. We tried to learn lessons from those that didnt work: if you only look at test scores, or if you have a limited amount of money thats pitting teachers against each other.

NEA Today: Im sure Victoria Siegel would say that even if you look at test score gains, its still harder to move kids up one grade level at her school than in a middle class school.

Secretary Duncan: Right. So the way you do it is to compare a school with other schools with similar demographics. So, it really is apples to apples.

You could also make an argument that its easier to move kids who are further behind than to keep accelerating kids. So, whichever piece of that you agree with, the bottom line is, you need to be comparing schools against like schools.

(Read a study of the first year of the Chicago TAP program by Mathematica Policy Research.)

end of quote (link to study)

There is no earthly way to read these words and not come away with the notion that Duncan's view of merit pay involves test scores (two of the three indicators in his TAP program involve test scores). Teachers on this site have repeatedly told you this was what merit pay means. We were right. It is one thing to argue that this is a good idea (I don't agree but that doesn't make those who do dishonest). It is quite another to argue that Obama and Duncan don't believe in this idea (they do). I wish this weren't the case but it is. Obama and Duncan clearly believe in a merit pay system based in substantial part on growth in test scores.
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