Evaluating and Rewarding the Quality of Teachers: International Practices

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06 Nov 2009
9789264034358 (PDF) ;9789264061989(print)

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Drawing on relevant international research, including information from experts’ presentations and papers given at the December 2008 Joint Conference between the OECD and the Government of Mexico, this book sets out good practice in the design and implementation of incentive systems for teachers. With this aim in mind, the book provides analysis and discussion of the design and implementation of incentive systems for teachers as well as guidance on what should be rewarded and how it should it be measured, who should be rewarded, how they should they be rewarded and how policies should be developed and implemented to ensure stakeholder engagement and commitment.

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  • Foreword
    Compelling incentives for individuals, economies and societies to raise levels of education have been the driving force for governments to improve the quality of educational services. The prosperity of countries now derives, to a large extent, from their human capital, and to succeed in a rapidly changing world, individuals need to advance their knowledge and skills throughout their lives. On the premise that the quality of education cannot exceed the quality of teachers, countries are devoting increasing efforts towards improving the quality of teachers and teaching.
  • List of acronyms and abbreviations
  • Evaluating and Rewarding Good Teachers
    Across the world, nations recognise that their futures are linked to the quality of their education systems. Education economists point out that there is a value to education for both the individual and society (Hanushek, 1996). Not only does education lead to higher skills, increased salaries, and lower unemployment, but also better health, greater social participation and less dependence on social services. Given the changing expectations of knowledge-based economies, there is a greater urgency for nations to address concerns about the quality of their education systems: successful companies demand that employees at every level of the enterprise have a far greater level of knowledge and skills than at any time in the past. To be competitive in attracting and retaining businesses that will sustain productive economies in their countries, nations must develop employee workforces that are able to meet new demands. A recent study (McKinsey & Company, 2009) of the achievement gap in the United States (U.S.) suggested that if the United States had closed their achievement gap with countries like Finland and Korea by 1998, its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would be 9-16% higher than it is today. That is a greater impact than the level of the negative effect of the recent recession, which was 6.4% at the end of 2008.
  • A Review of International Practice
    The single salary schedule has been the dominant form of compensation for teachers across the world for over half a century. Based on degrees earned and years of experience, the single salary schedule provides a secure salary with small annual increases for remaining on the job, regardless of the quality of the teacher’s performance. Differences in salary levels have been negotiated with trade unions at the national, regional and local levels but they have generally affected the level of pay rather than the structure. In many countries, the teacher unions have been instrumental in maintaining the single salary schedule, with a few salary incentives, but no recognition for performance-based pay or incentives for those working in schools serving disadvantaged students. In Ireland, for example (Sclafani and Tucker, 2006), assuming additional responsibilities such as teaching the Irish language or working in remote locations, are the only acceptable reasons for teachers to receive additional pay.
  • Design Components of Incentive Pay Programmes in the Education Sector
    Education reform is increasingly focused on human capital formation because high-quality teachers are seen as the most direct and effective pathways to improving student achievement. Based on the argument that prevailing compensation practices provide weak incentives for teachers, and that inefficiencies arise from rigidities in current compensation policies, several national systems of public education have explored teacher compensation reforms (Podgursky and Springer, 2007).1 Proponents argue that financial incentives can motivate teachers to achieve higher levels of performance, entice more effective teachers to join or remain in the teaching profession, and align teacher behaviours and interests with institutional goals.
  • Whose Incentives? Whose Stimuli ? Performance Management in England
    This chapter explores various forms of incentives and stimuli used by the Westminster Government in England for school and teacher improvement. It describes and evaluates the performance management and performancerelated pay system introduced by the Westminster Government in 2000 and developed since then. It also explores other forms of incentives, including the major role played by continuing professional development and effective school leadership.
  • Exploring the Use of Incentives to Influence the Quality and Distribution of Teachers
    A large and growing body of research on schools convincingly shows that teacher quality is the most important schooling factor influencing student achievement.1 The difference between having a very effective versus a very ineffective teacher is estimated to be equivalent to as much as a full year’s difference in learning growth for students (Hanushek, 1992). Moreover the impact of differences in teacher quality swamps the impact of other educational investments, such as reductions in class size (Goldhaber et al., 1999; Rivkin et al., 2005).2 To put it in perspective, Rivkin et al. (2005) and Rockoff (2004) estimate that a one standard deviation increase in teacher quality raises student achievement in reading and mathematics by about 10% of a standard deviation – an achievement effect that is on the same order of magnitude as lowering class size by 10 to 13 students (Rivkin et al., 2005). Given findings like these, it is no surprise that policy makers are exploring ways to increase the quality of the teacher workforce.
  • Incentive System Implementation
    As the preceding chapters in this book have shown, the design and implementation of performance-pay systems for educators are complex endeavours that affect key stakeholders in variable and nuanced ways. No matter how carefully designed and thoughtfully implemented, a new compensation system for teachers and school leaders can be controversial, and in any case, is bound to produce questions and concerns. As such, no discussion of the attributes of an effective teacher incentive system would be complete without considering ways to engage educators themselves in its design and implementation or without suggesting strategies for ongoing communication about the system.
  • Professional Educators and Their Pay: Policy, Implementation and Alignment Issues
    Across the globe, both the numbers of elementary and secondary schoolteachers and their inflation-adjusted salaries have substantially increased during the past half-century. In many nations, however, student achievement has remained stagnant. Two increasingly voiced policy goals, therefore, are to stabilise spending and raise performance. A central issue to consider when striving for these goals is the optimal means by which educator pay can be reshaped to contribute more forcefully to higher levels of student achievement.
  • The Politics of Performance-Based Incentives in Education: An International Look
    Countries around the world increasingly recognise the importance of education for national economic wellbeing, and a growing cadre of reformers are looking for ways to increase education productivity. Reformers are also searching for ways to reduce achievement gaps between disadvantaged students and their more fortunate peers for social and moral reasons, as well as economic ones. Teachers are at the centre of reform efforts. An impressive body of research indicates that teachers are the most important school-level factor affecting student learning, and that the variation in effectiveness among teachers is large. But the relationship between standard indicators of teacher quality, such as certification status, years of experience beyond the first few years, and graduate degrees, are only weakly related to teacher performance, at best. And these factors weigh heavily in current teacher pay structures. The underlying findings are strong. They have been replicated in different jurisdictions, by different researchers, with different data based on different tests.
  • Putting It All Together
    As the chapters in this book have shown, countries across the world are trying to establish compensation and incentive systems that will ensure the successful recruitment, evaluation, and retention of effective teachers in their education systems. An effective teacher in every classroom would dramatically increase the learning of our students and would enable economically disadvantaged students to achieve at levels comparable to their peers (Hanushek, 1992; Sanders and Rivers, 1996; Rivkin et al., 2005). As McKinsey & Company (2009) has shown, this would lead to higher Gross Domestic Product (GDP) levels and a society with fewer health, welfare and crime problems (Hanushek, 1996). A recent report (Hanushek and Wößmann, 2009) suggested that the low cognitive demand of education in many Latin American countries may explain why there was less economic growth over the last 30 years in the Latin American economies than that experienced in East Asian countries which started at similar levels.
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