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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Weingarten Endorses Teacher Pay Based on High Stakes Testing

Randi Weingarten’s recent speech, where she was introduced by Mike Bloomberg, includes a strong endorsement for teacher merit pay based on high-stakes standardized testing.

From an AP article entitled “Union Prez: Performance Pay Works”:
Weingarten described the teacher pay system in New York City , where school-wide bonuses are based on overall test scores in high-poverty schools. Weingarten, as head of the New York teachers union, negotiated the system last year with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The new system is working, she said: Teachers already are getting bonuses for improving student achievement in 128 of 200 eligible schools.
But it wasn’t so long ago we were hearing a different story from the Weingarten-led United Federation of Teachers. Last year, a more detailed analysis in the UFT newsletter was entitled: “Pay for performance not performing well: Places using such models have run into snags”. The UFT article starts out this way:

“Guess what? New teacher pay-for-performance plans in Florida and Texas have run into big problems. Not surprised? Aha. You may be a teacher”.

It's not just teachers who should be concerned. The program here in NYC makes standardized testing even more high stakes which will lead to more cheating, test prep, teaching to the test and the narrowing of the curriculum. It's our kids who will suffer.

Weingarten’s new position is certainly disappointing. Is it a result of politics and ideology trumping research and actual experience?

Full AP article here.

Full UFT newsletter article here.

1 comment:

Alex said...

Of course merit bonuses work.

They work to get teachers more money, which is what Weingarten wants. it is a poltically feasible way to get teachers more money. Heck, it a way that is popular withe people on the political right!

What it doesn't do is improve instruction or make test scores more accurate, of course. It's not a reform strategy.

It's a teacher pay raise strategy.