The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

Invest in education not measurement

Blogging about performance-based vs standards-based pay for teachers, Andrew Leigh leans toward favouring performance-based pay.

“In short, teacher certification is a hoop, while kids’ test scores are an output. It would make more sense to pay for outputs, not hoop-jumping.”

Kid’s test scores are an output, but by no means the only or most important one, other than a convenient one for politicians, bureaucrats and economists because they are the easiest thing to measure. Just what they are measuring, and how valid these measurements are in evaluating the effectiveness of a student, teacher, or school is far from clear.

Standards-based pay doesn’t refer to someone with a Masters degree. It is a system of bench-marking professional standards supported by ongoing professional development and evaluation processes.

Teaching is a profession underpinned by cooperation and collaboration. Schools in difficulty will usually be deficient in these qualities. It is a reasonable concern that competitive ‘performance’ bonuses will discourage individual teachers from sharing their trade secrets.

And how do you even begin to make an equitable performance bonus scale based on kids’ test scores? Education is not a mechanised production line with easily measured and distinct raw ingredients transformed into a uniform can of PAL at the end of the line. Surely it is the aim of all educators to help their students achieve the best they can, and for some students, test scores may not figure so highly.

Socioeconomic factors, unemployment, drug abuse, emotional neglect/abuse, family stability, non-english speaking backgrounds, how much a family reads and discusses as opposed to passively soaking up television, among others, all have a profound influence on a child’s ability to learn and achieve a ‘desirable’ test score, even among children with the same innate abilities.

The most wonderfully effective teacher in a disadvantaged school has no chance of achieving the test score bonus payment. So then you have to start creating indices and scales and complex formula in order to approach some kind of effective evaluation of how good a teacher is based on relative and comparative test scores. Another government department in the making, I’m sure. Money better spent by investing in education, not endlessly measuring it.

Filed under: Education

One Response

  1. […] Brendan Halfweeg  draws the parallel with ‘what happened in the trades under individual based contracts.’ However, I’m not convinced that education can be likened to a trade. We can judge the effectiveness of an automotive mechanic by how well he/she maintains our vehicle. The car needs to be maintained so that it can perform to the best of its ability, design and age. But you can’t determine that by benchmarking a Gogomobile against a Series 7 BMW based on performance criteria – other factors and limitations must be taken into account. And so it is with effective education. […]

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The Dog’s Bollocks

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