Monday, June 18, 2012

This Just In: Testing, Merit Pay, and HB 1234 Still Irreparably Flawed

During the past legislative session, teachers frequently cited Daniel Pink to show that merit pay doesn't work.  HB 1234 passed as Governor Daugaard twisted arms in the best Chicago politicalmachine style.

In today's Inc. Jessica Stillman reports on Justin Moore's analysis that shows merit pay is counter productiveMoore, a "co-founder and CEO of business-continuity and disaster-recovery company Axcient" takes issue with merit pay on several levels.

Governor Daugaard premises his flawed plan on the idea that money will motivate good teachers to do better work.  He rejected the idea that many teachers work for more intrinsic rewards.  Moore doesn't share Daugaard's belief that "cash is king" or "greed works."  Moore asserts:
If you have a sense of purpose in accomplishing something, you're doing it because you get some personal reward out of it, not because there's a stack of money being given to you at the end of it. It's been shown that financial incentives, while they work in certain situations, long term actually reduce creativity and eliminate some of that sense of accomplishment.
Moore also enunciates a principle that every governor, secretary of education, and testing proponent should consider:
"Measuring the wrong thing is actually worse than not measuring anything at all, because it will actually focus all your energies in the wrong place."
The testing regime certainly focuses teachers' energies on the test instead of students' education.

Moore does two other things that Daugaard refuses to do.  First, Moore eschews the top down approach:
"We rarely give top down goals," says Moore. Instead, managers sit down with employees to discuss what they need to accomplish and help them work out their own targets and metrics."
That approach sounds far different than the HB 1234 work groups that epitomize top-down thinking.

Finally, all of these reforms began with NCLB and its efforts to make 100% of students meet top down goals.  That unrealistic Lake Wobegon expectation could have been avoided if politicians had followed Moore's method for developing metrics:
The art of setting metrics, he continues, is in fact ensuring employees don't set unrealistic expectations for themselves by asking questions like: Do you really think that's achievable? Do you think you should give yourself some more cushion? Have you taken into account the unknown?
One would hope that if Moore's questions had been asked, someone in power would have come to the realization that 100% is not achievable.

Unfortunately, Axient's "disaster recovery" recovers data; it doesn't help citizens recover from bad political policies, so teachers will be left to their own devices to fix the disasters that ed reformers' policies will create.


D.E. Bishop said...

A few days ago the ratings for the best places to work in MN were published in the Strib. All the questions and all the data derived from the employees surveyed, were disclosed. There were three categories of businesses, based on number of employees.

Fortune 500 companies like Cargill, and little neighborhood businesses with a dozen employees, all listed very similar items as the most important thing for their job satisfaction: It was the way they were treated, the respect they received.

One would think that if it was good enough for Cargill, it ought to be good enough for SD teachers. Wouldn't one?

LK said...

One one hope D.E. Thanks for adding to the conversation. As always, you provided new insight.