Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Performance Pay and Fostering Competition to Improve Education?

Our education system is proposing a rewards system for teachers (bonus pay in 2014) as a way of improving teacher performance. A survey by the Herald Sun has shown the large majority of the teachers they surveyed did not agree with performance pay, 80% in fact.  Read Bonus pay sore point for teachers. People like career analyst Dan Pink quote study after study that suggests money is a poor motivator for tasks requiring creativity and divergent thinking. To me (and it is only my opinion) bonus pay, particularly if it is capped will lead to competition and not collaboration between teachers.  It will divide staff not bring them together, comments like, "how did they get the bonus when I did not?" might be the type of comment that eats away at a staff's morale.

Educational systems like Finland's (No. 1 in the world) promote cooperation and not competition while educational systems like the U.S. promote competition over cooperation (No. 26 in the world). Competition is fuelled in our system through initiatives like the MySchool website, which uses a very narrow piece of data to portray schools to parents and the general public. The public see our education system performing well (or not) based on one measuring tool! No consideration (publicly) is given to the many and varied facets that go into making up a quality school. Add to this the QLD Government is currently in the spotlight for comparing schools across their state based on Government audits of schools, again a contradiction to international best practise. For more information about league tables read League tables what they won't tell you.

I am not opposed to processes that require schools to reflect deeply on teaching performance and student learning. I also agree with creating an educational system that is accountable, but do it by training high quality teachers, paying teachers what they are worth, providing an education system that supports (financely) ongoing training, creating a system that does not discriminate and is equitable and accessible to all. Do it by focusing on international best practise not the opposite.

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