Performance-Based Compensation -- July 15, 2009
Author William Slotnik, of CTAC, the outfit that advised Denver in the design of ProComp, has this week's Commentary in Ed Week and issued a very useful report -- "It's More Than Money" that describes the Six Cornerstones that need to be in place for Pay For Performance to work. Published by the Center for American Progress and released on Tuesday, this report should give pause to school districts that think that pay for performance is a way to get teachers to work harder or for the district to save money. On the contrary, it costs significantly more than the traditional salary schedule and it means that the district has to work significantly harder providing supports to teachers. Financial incentives will have no impact "absent high-quality instructional support," the report says. Most importantly, design and implementation of the system has to be done "with teachers, not to teachers." The teachers' union has to be "the protector of quality implementation, as well as teacher rights."
Districts that are thinking about pay for performance need to be encouraged to read this report and to pause before rushing headlong into what has been touted by some as a silver bullet. Failure to appreciate the complexities of the six cornerstones will lead not only to failure to meet the goals but cynicism and demoralization of the workforce. The author encourages an extensive, collaborative, transparent design stage and small-scale piloting prior to final decisions, roll out or implementation of compensation reform. Otherwise, he says, the history of failure of such efforts is doomed to be repeated.