As teachers in the United Kingdom prepare to initiate a strike, a recent poll from a think tank finds that teachers could accept performance pay but would need assurances over the system's fairness. While teachers who were surveyed overwhelmingly disapproved of merit pay, officials said teachers' responses to other questions show they could be swayed.
In New Zealand, which pays its teachers less than other high-performing nations, officials should consider doing away with incentives for educators and focus more on increasing teacher pay, writes columnist Tapu Misa. She cites research from the United Kingdom, which found that higher teacher pay could draw top graduates to the classroom and could boost the standing of the profession.
Some states and districts have begun to alter their plans to implement performance pay for teachers, citing inconclusive research on its effectiveness and a lack of funds. Funding for merit pay in Texas -- which had the largest program in the country -- has been depleted, while New York City eliminated its $56 million program after merit pay was found to not impact student achievement. Some districts continue to tie teachers' pay to students' test scores -- in part, because of federal grant funding -- but some experts say the future of merit-pay programs is uncertain.
Federal stimulus money for education -- and the strings attached to it -- have put an increased focus on school data systems. An Edutopia article says states looking to improve their data usefulness should strive for effective analysis tools, suggesting a system similar to those at some districts that offer early warnings about students at risk of dropping out. The result of data-reform efforts could be a future when teachers receive a class roster accompanied by digital portfolios containing the academic history of each of their students.
Wachovia and other banks have started innovative programs to persuade Americans to start saving money. What's in it for the banks, other than good PR? "Unless you keep your cost very efficient or charge massive fees," says Harvard professor Peter Tufano, "the economics of providing savings programs for low- to moderate-income families are not all that great."