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NZ should skip failed performance pay agenda for education

26th March 2012

New Zealand should leapfrog failed performance pay agenda for education

The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa says principals and teachers oppose performance pay linked to student achievement outcomes because evidence shows this has a negative impact on quality teaching and children’s learning.

NZEI President Ian Leckie said performance pay for teachers overseas was generally linked to student test results because it was seen to be more “objective” than principal or Board appraisals. However, recent US research* shows that judging teacher effectiveness based on gains in students’ test scores resulted in one in three teachers being mis-identified. This was because of the large margin of error in test results and the wide variability in ability of students in any one class.

Performance pay systems resulted in teachers competing with each other, distorting learning by “teaching to the test” and putting test results ahead of a child’s well-being and overall learning potential.

“Teaching is a job where people need to work together. Performance pay would result in competition between teachers that would be unhealthy for kids,” Mr Leckie says.

“What we want is a pay system that keeps our best teachers in the class room and that recognises their skills, knowledge and expertise in a fair and professional way. We want to focus on recruiting the best teachers we can, keeping them learning throughout their careers, and making sure teaching is seen as a highly valued job.”

“New Zealand teachers are always ambitious to do better, and relative to other western countries, we spend less on teachers and get more “bang for our buck” with our world-leading student results in international surveys like PISA.”

He said as with any profession, the pay system for teachers needed to be built in partnership with Government and communities with the primary aim of supporting high quality teaching and learning.

* Error Rates in Measuring Teacher and School Performance Based on Student Test Score Gains (National Council for Education and the Economy report, 2010, USA).


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