Regis Shields responds to a recent article in the New York Times, “New York City Abandons Teacher Bonus Program”:
NYC’s teacher bonus program had the correct intention, but the wrong execution. “Performance based compensation” should mean a system that rewards teachers based on several evaluation criteria (i.e. responsibilities, observation, test scores), similar to other professionals. Teachers traditionally have been paid on a single salary schedule, with pay increases based on years of work and educational attainment, the result being that an outstanding teacher earning as much as a poor performer. The NYC salary structure is no different. The failed bonus program was an attempt to provide some compensation tied to performance, but was layered on top of the traditional structure and based primarily on student test scores. The lesson from the NYC’s experience is that if we truly want to compensate outstanding teachers appropriately we need to reinvent the entire compensation structure with teacher effectiveness and contribution as the foundation and representative of all the complexities of the job.