I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Don't Let Facts Stop You!

If you feel in your gut that a "reform" works, ignore the facts and go ahead with it!
Paying teachers bonuses to improve student test scores may not work after all, according to a new study researchers say is the first scientifically rigorous test of merit pay.
Vanderbilt University researchers studied a program in Nashville that offered bonuses of $5,000 to $15,000 to middle school math teachers if their students scored higher than expected on a statewide exam, according to a report released today.
After three years, the program proved to be a bust, the study said. Except for some temporary gains, students did not progress any faster in classrooms where teachers were offered bonuses.
Actually, there are other studies that found merit pay doesn't work. You'd think that the evidence would at least compel the 'formers to move with caution. But crusaders don't roll with no logic:
Gov. Chris Christie is expected to propose a statewide performance pay program for New Jersey teachers next week. Today, the governor’s spokesman questioned whether the Vanderbilt study would have any impact.
"The study has limitations, which its authors acknowledged," said Michael Drewniak, Christie’s spokesman. "It does not support any sweeping conclusions."
Yeah, see, academic studies ALWAYS state there are limitations. It's called the scientific method, dude.

I just hope Drewniak doesn't have any food allergies. "Gee, the last time I ate shellfish, I broke out in hives. But that doesn't support any sweeping conclusions. Instead of getting a test, I'm gonna hit the Red Lobster and stuff myself tonight!"

And, of course, articles like this must ALWAYS include a comment from the wingnut-welfare contingent:
Frederick M. Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., said he did not believe the study had much value and said he was concerned it would only confuse the issue.
"The fact that that teachers don’t respond to cash bonuses like rats do to food pellets does nothing to diminish my confidence that it’s good for schooling if teacher pay better reflects the contributions that teachers make," Hess said. "Serious proponents of merit pay believe the point is not any kind of short-term test score bump but making the profession more attractive to talented candidates."
Yet you're going to make the profession more attractive by basing merit pay on those very same short-term test bumps. Makes sense...

AEI "Scholars" Conference


Lisa said...

Exactly! There's no need to reform a system that's working (and doing so is a grossly irresponsible waste of money), so when the facts don't fit their agenda, they ignore or invalidate the facts and make up their own narrative.

In May Schundler's spokesman Alan Guenther dismissed the highly respected NAEP measure that ranked NJ "highest in achievement in reading and math" to be "irrelevant," and ran his narrative describing our public education as a "wretched system" --

despite those annoying facts that ranked us highest and undermined their rationale to fund for-profit charters (for their friends) and institute vouchers (to reimburse themselves for their choice to send their own kids to religious and private prep schools). Both [unnecessary] "reforms" divert badly needed public funds from a top ranked public system that is verified to be working, to charters and vouchers that have not as yet produced any conclusive results that show that either provide an improved education.

The absurdity of this hypocricy is that the tests they declared "irrelevant" are the same ones they want to use to determine merit pay for teachers.

Moreover, and most distressing, is that NO ONE'S CALLED THEM ON IT, exposed it, and held their feet to the fire until they responded to this glaring contradiction.

Duke said...

I wrote about that at the time:


You are most certainly right about no one calling them on it. The S-L gives a wingnut-hack from AEI a platform for his nonsense while ignoring people who really study this stuff and have something meaningful to say.

Again - the dominant issue in this country is our failed media. All other policy disasters seem to flow from it.

Thanks for stopping by.