Will “Pay for Performance” Be Negotiated in New York City? Are the Baltimore/Pittsburgh Teacher Contracts Models for New Salary Schedules?

Is some type of pay for performance in the cards for New York City?
 
A simple, complex and political question.
 
Teachers are paid on salary steps that increase with service and increments for additional education, i. e., Masters, courses beyond a Masters, Phd, and/or National Certification.
(There is no evidence that additional degrees impact student outcomes). The theory is simple, if you gradually raise an employee’s salary you will most likely retain him in the position, and, experienced employees are important to the mission of the organization. The teacher attrition rate drops precipitously after eight years on the job
 
In the private sector raises are tied to titles, salary increases as the employee increases responsibility by moving into more highly compensated positions. Employees are typically evaluated by a supervisor, with the possibility of bonuses or merit raises based upon performance.
 
In positions based upon sales employee compensation is tied to organizational profits, BTW, one of the core reasons for the real estate bubble collapse.
 
Lawyers bill an hourly rate, the rate based upon the marketplace and the reputation of the lawyer or law firm.
 
Teachers vary in ability, although it’s difficult to quantify their talents.
 
Research clearly reveals that individual teachers vary substantially in their success with students, and these differences persist even within schools (Rivkin, Hanushek, and Kahn 2005, McCaffrey et. al. 2003).
 
Seventy (70%) of teachers teach subjects not measured by a standardized test. Regents exams are graded by teachers in their own schools and the State Ed Department samples a very small number of student exams.  Could teachers mark “blind” papers (only a bar code, not a name), and the results be used in lieu of a standardized test?  How would we “measure” Art, Music, Physical Education teachers?
 
Or, would we use some combination of supervisor, peer, outside evaluators to observe the teacher, evaluate student work, referred to as “multiple measures,” and “score” the teacher?
 
These are difficult, but not insurmountable issues.
 
The teacher evaluation, the “score, would impact teacher remuneration.
 
Let me say it again, teachers vary in ability. We all know the “stars” and the one’s that struggle.
 
Should “stars” receive bonuses?  Should we create teaching positions with greater responsibility at higher pay rates? Should we monetarily reward teachers who are successful with difficult to reach kids?
 
The theory: a quality-based remuneration system would retain the higher performers and discourage the lower performers, coupled with results-based dismissal decisions would upgrade the teaching force and improve outcomes.
 
Is there any evidence that these policies would increase student outcomes?
 
While the extremely contentious Washington DC negotiations garnered all the ink a few miles up I-95 the Baltimore Teachers Union is just about to vote on a complex agreement that significantly changes the salary structure.
 
In June the Pittsburgh Teachers Union approved a groundbreaking agreement. The contract, as summarized in Education Week, and praised in the Pittsburgh Business Times, breaks the salary step mold.
 
In addition to raising teachers’ base pay over five years, the contract lays out a number of changes in how teachers are compensated. In probably the contract’s most revolutionary feature, it creates a new salary schedule that emphasizes teacher performance.
Most schedules reward teachers for longevity and credentials earned. Under the revamped schedule, which will go into effect July 1, new teachers will continue to earn “step” increases each year, but they will no longer win automatic raises for receiving master’s degrees.
Instead, teachers will earn major pay boosts by satisfying a periodic review based on a combination of their teacher-evaluation scores and by demonstrating that they have advanced students’ academic growth.
After meeting the four-year tenure mark, and each third year thereafter, teachers will be placed into one of four “professional growth” levels. The most effective teachers could pass the $100,000 mark in as little as eight years.
In time, veteran teachers would have the opportunity to qualify for a career ladder that would reward them with $10,000 to $14,000 annually in additional compensation for working with students with the most challenges and in extended-day programs.
 
 On the scholarly side Susan Moore Johnson and John P. Papay in “Redesigning Teacher Pay: A System for the Next Generation of Educators,” (Economic Policy Institute, 2009) lay out a variety of alternative remuneration plans. Johnson and Papay review a range of contracts around the country, some districts use student evaluations, others professional assessments, or multiple measures, to develop salary schedules, and propose a Tiered Pay-and-Career-Structure plus a Learning and Development Fund.
 
We propose to replace the single salary scale with a career-based pay plan …. designed to attract strong candidates to teaching, support them in developing instructional skills quickly and steadily, and offering substantially higher pay for those who perform well and assume broader responsibility beyond the classroom …. the credibility of the plan depends …. having a fair, open, and well-informed process for making key decisions  …. joint labor-management committees are effective mechanism for planning, implementing and maintaining ambitious new programs.
 
One of the ironies is that in New York, a chancellor flies around the country bashing tenure, layoff rules and teacher unions, apparently with the full support of the mayor, guarantees that these “innovations” will not be negotiated. In both Baltimore and Pittsburgh the superintendent, the mayor and the union worked together on a wide range of issues. In New York, Los Angeles and Chicago contentious relationships result in continuous sparring.  
 
Until the ill-conceived ATR disaster, tenure and layoff  are resolved in a manner that satisfies teachers, “innovative” contract clauses are unlikely.
 
Contract negotiations edge toward PERB fact-finding and eventually a non-binding recommendation. However much of what the chancellor and mayor advocate are not mandatory areas of collective bargaining, they would require changes in state law, and, the fact-finders would abjure this type of recommendation. It is unlikely a new governor would expend energy on school (de)reform issues: the budget, ethics and redistricting are the first issues on his plate and will frame his next four years. The loss of the three pro-charter insurgent candidates, in spite of significant influx of dollars, weakened the charter school/(de)reform folks in the eyes of legislators.
 
Time is on the teacher union side, the current contract remains in effect until the successor contract is negotiated, The budget morass is not the fault of the union, the UFT did negotiate a Tier 5 last year, substantially reducing pensions costs over the long run.
 
And, of course, there is not a scintilla of evidence that changes in methods of teacher remuneration will impact pupil achievement. The Rhee, Klein, Huberman crowd tend to ignore inconvenient truths, for example, “mutual consent” (Open Market/ATR) hiring will be advantageous to lowest achieving schools over the seniority/district office assignment hiring model. A lengthy detailed study by a highly regarded research group finds,
 
We conduct an interrupted time-series analysis of data from 1998-2005 and find that the shift from a seniority-based hiring system to a “mutual consent” hiring system leads to an initial increase in both teacher turnover and share of inexperienced teachers, especially in the district’s most disadvantaged schools. For the most part, however, these initial shocks are corrected within four years leaving little change in the distribution of inexperienced teachers or levels of turnover across schools of different advantage.
  
Too many so-called reforms are idyll speculation, not only unsupported by evidence, but antithetical to research.
 
Change, under the best of circumstances is difficult. One of the axioms of personal and organization change is “participation reduces resistance.” In New York, and other large school districts proposed “change” is perceived as punishment.
 
The lesson on November 2nd is clear to teachers, the “reform” agenda, from Obama to Duncan to the “reform” superintendents is misguided. Duncan may be wooing Randi Weingarten but hordes of teacher who manned phone banks, knocked on doors, spent weekend after weekend supporting Obama and democrats are disillusioned. Many are “sitting” on the sidelines, most will vote for democrats, few are expending their energies campaigning.
 
If  Bloomberg and his mayoral brethren are serious about new salary structures they cannot continue to flail teachers and their unions.
UPDATE: See video and Baltimore contract description here.
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2 responses to “Will “Pay for Performance” Be Negotiated in New York City? Are the Baltimore/Pittsburgh Teacher Contracts Models for New Salary Schedules?

  1. “We all know the “stars” and the ones that struggle.”
    I’m not so sure; I think we probably know some top “stars”, and probably know some desparately struggling teachers, but I doubt we really know much about the vast majority. And I doubt their supervisors do, either.

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    • All the research supports that we can identify folks at both ends of the spectrum (two standard deviations above/below the mean), but, the vast percent of teacher in the middle vary greatly from year to year on any effectivensss scale.

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