Is superintendent Vitti tone deaf about his merit pay plan?

Superintendent Vitti is out selling his plan to pay top
performing teachers to stay at or go to our underperforming (re do poorly on
standardized tests) schools. He calls the 20k being proposed a life style
change. It’s not.
First the money is to be paid out over three years. Now
6,700 dollars a year is a nice chunk of change but it is hardly lifestyle
changing. I know this because when many of our struggling schools had sig
grants they were paying teachers an extra 5,000 dollars a year and unless I
have missed something we are in the exact same spot.  
We have tried other financial inducements too, like 3000 dollars one
year and a free masters degree the next, which also did not work.
These types of scams are often referred to as merit pay and
have been tried over and over again by districts and not one has worked, until
miraculously the Department of Education funded the Transfer Incentives for
High Performing Teachers study.
It found that high performing teachers paid 20k over two
years to transfer to our struggling schools made a huge difference. That’s the
headline however when you look into the study huge problems were easy to find.
First teachers that transferred to middle schools made
absolutely no difference. I was stunned too but the report said high performing
teachers did as well as teachers hired through the normal applicant process in
middle schools.
Next let’s compare high performing transfer teachers to teachers
hired through the normal applicant process. The normal applicant process especially
at our struggling schools consists for the most part of recent grads, novice
teachers and people from other fields looking to start their careers because due
to high turnover at those schools that’s where the jobs are.  So the study in essence said more experienced teachers
do better than novice teachers.
Then according to the study even at 20,000 dollars over two
years only 22% of teachers asked to apply did so and of those only five percent
actually went. Now here we are offering even less per year money.
Finally only 60% of the transfer teachers remained the next
year once the money was turned off. The study doesn’t say it but I imagine that percentage
will drop precipitously in subsequent years and in short order the struggling
schools will be right back where they started.
What’s being sold as a game changer, a lifestyle change is in
effect just more of the same tried and failed plans.

At the end of the day no amount of money is going to make a difference
unless we put in adequate supports for students and teachers and that instead
of recycling what has already failed is what we should be doing.

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