New NEPC Review: Bonus Proposal is Actually Camouflaged Cost-Cutting

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Education Policy scholar finds that plan to pay ‘best’ teachers more if they accept larger classes misreads or ignores the evidence.

http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-paying-best-teachers

Rather than a practical response to known issues with single-salary pay scales, the proposal appears to be primarily a scheme to reduce the teaching force.

BOULDER, CO (April 13, 2015) – A recent report from Georgetown University’s Edunomics Lab proposes paying bonuses to the “best” teachers in a district if they teach more students. Yet a new review published today concludes that the report misreads or ignores well-established evidence on class size as well as on teacher assessment, pay and job satisfaction.

"Paying the Best Teachers More to Teach More Students" was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by Patricia H. Hinchey, a professor of education at Penn State University. The review is published by the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education.

The Edunomics report is written by Marguerite Roza and Amanda Warco. It proposes that districts pay the top 25 percent of their teachers a bonus for accepting up to three more students in existing classes. The drawback of the resulting larger classes would, the report asserts, be offset by the benefit of having more students enrolled with more effective teachers.

Professor Hinchey, however, points out that the report cites no evidence for that assumption. It bases its projected outcomes on data about average class sizes, which obscures the impact “on thousands of teachers and students in already overcrowded classrooms,” she adds. Further, Hinchey writes, the proposed bonus system similarly ignores the evidence that teacher salaries overall “are too low to recruit and retain sufficient numbers of talented faculty, especially in high-needs schools” – a problem that she points out the authors’ proposal is unlikely to remedy.

Further, Hinchey writes, the report ignores “the well-documented and crucial technical problem with identifying high-performing teachers,” misrepresents the evidence on the effect of class size on student learning, and ignores established findings on teacher pay, attitudes, and job satisfaction.

The new report is one of many responses over the years to criticisms that “single-salary” pay scales under-compensate great teachers and over-compensate inept teachers. Yet, “rather than a practical response to known issues with single-salary pay scales, the proposal appears to be primarily a scheme to reduce the teaching force,” Hinchey concludes. “The report is superficial and misleading, and the plan it proposes has no value as a nationwide model.”

Find Pat Hinchey’s review on the NEPC website at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-paying-best-teachers.

Find "Paying the Best Teachers More to Teach More Students," by Marguerite Roza and Amanda Warco and published by the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University, on the web at:
http://edunomicslab.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/PayBestTeachersMore_FINAL.pdf

The Think Twice think tank review project (http://thinktankreview.org) of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. NEPC is housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. The Think Twice think tank review project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The mission of the National Education Policy Center is to produce and disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. We are guided by the belief that the democratic governance of public education is strengthened when policies are based on sound evidence. For more information on the NEPC, please visit http://nepc.colorado.edu/.

This review is also found on the GLC website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/.

URL for this press release: http://tinyurl.com/oz5b5on

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William J. Mathis

Patricia H. Hinchey

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National Education Policy Center (NEPC)
since: 03/2011
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