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Education

More A's, More Pay 366

Posted by Zonk
from the teaching-to-the-paycheck dept.
theodp writes "Little slashdotters may find teacher a tad more upset when they screw up on a test. The Dept. of Education just launched the first federal program that uses bonuses to motivate teachers who raise test scores in at-risk communities, awarding $42M this month to 16 school systems. Any fears that teachers might cook the books to score a typical $5,000 payoff? Not to worry, says Chicago's school chief, there are statistical analyses in place that spot testing irregularities, presumably better at catching Cheaters than those used in the past."
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More A's, More Pay

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  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:35AM (#16820000) Homepage Journal
    This is unbelievable and one of the reasons I've always "lobbied" against public education where teachers are also graders. It is my firm belief that you don't grade your own work. If you're a programmer, do you get to grade your programming?

    In any public job, allowing the employee to grade their output is going to end up with the grades falling into the average level as much as possible. If a public employee has too many failing students, they'll get fired. If they have too many students doing above average, they don't have a reason to ask for more money. With mostly average students (say, grade C or so), you can always say you can do better with more money. Since most teachers don't have a student for more than a few years, this can go on ad infinitum.

    I'm against publicly funded education entirely, but I would be 100% satisfied with TRUE free market grading systems. The ACT and SAT are not realistic scoring systems -- even though the ACT says they are a private organization. We need REAL grading companies who settle the knowledge of students. Why should a 12 year old always be in the 6th grade? Shouldn't various students of various abilities be judged to their level by what the market needs? Shouldn't education be partially based on what will be required of the student if they were to enter the industry at a certain knowledge level?

    To me, this feels like more teachers' union cronyism and preferential treatment to keep private industry out of the education system. What we need is more competition and less paternalism in this very-important market. Let us see what would happen when real competition creeps into the system -- not more regulation.
    • by realmolo (574068) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:47AM (#16820088)
      The public education system in this country is pretty broken, I'll give you that.

      But letting the "free market" handle it is suicide. You'd end up with multiple "tiers" of schools. Good schools for rich people, bad schools for poor people. Which is exactly how it is now, except that the poor people would be even WORSE off, because they'd be paying more, and wouldn't get any funding from the state to fix things, or any hope of changing the situation through elections.

      Or are you one of those idealists that thinks that companies in the "education business" would actually give a shit about the schools in poor areas? Because they wouldn't. They'd run them as cheaply as possible, and simply raise the rates at the schools for rich people. Much better margins on the rich kids, you see. The schools for poor kids aren't where the money is at.

      The "free market" isn't good at providing services for the public good, because what is good for the public is rarely good for the bottom-line.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by dada21 (163177) *
        That's a pretty ridiculous concept, actually, considering that the free market of competition helps the poor more than it helps the rich.

        For example, look at Jiffy Lube. Sure, everyone can probably change their oil themselves, but I get my oil changes for all my vehicles for $17.99 (with coupon) at Jiffy Lube. So do a lot of poor people. And what about Wal*Mart? They take back any returns without many questions, offer incredible price discounts, and pay their long-term employees well. What about the ma
        • by realmolo (574068) on Monday November 13, 2006 @01:15AM (#16820238)
          "If a school took advantage of the poor, another school who cares for the income would step up".

          I didn't say that a privately-run school would "take advantage" of the poor. I said that they would spend as little as possible, since they would know that their customers couldn't pay very much.

          Let's say you had a privately-run school in a poor area. They offer the absolute bare-minimum education, and their margins are very, very low. Eventually, they decide that they aren't making enough money, or possibly are even LOSING money, so they sell the school to a different company. What is that company going to do first? Cut costs in every way. They'd have to. Hire cheaper teachers, buy cheaper equipment, cut every corner. Eventually THAT company will probably give up.

          What happens when no company wants to serve a given area with schools, because they can't really make a decent profit on it? Remember, a given corporation/investment group doesn't HAVE to start a school with their money. They can do whatever they want. Why would they invest millions into a school in a poor area if they could invest that same money in to some more profitable venture?

          And you want me to show you one competitive market that is bad to the poor? You've never found any, you say? How about health insurance, or healthcare in general. There's a couple of free-markets that have screwed the poor. You really didn't think of those?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by tbannist (230135)
            Actually, when the private corporation gives up, a government would have to step in to take over running the school. Eventually, there'd be enough schools being run by local governments that they'd demand state and federal funding. And eventually they'd have to establish a department of education to regulate all the schools, and they'd start a program to ensure that all children have access to schooling, because an uneducated adult has very, very limited opportunities.

            In other words, privatizing the educa
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by gfxguy (98788)
              You could have the best of both worlds with vouchers. That way parents get to choose the schools, and schools become competitive for the voucher dollars. Surely there would be schools that charged more than the vouchers, but then that's why we have private schools today anyway - there will always be better schools for people with enough money to afford them.

              One of the problems a lot of people seem to have is that there will be disparity between the education of the wealthy, and the education of the poor.
        • by Rakishi (759894) on Monday November 13, 2006 @01:59AM (#16820446)
          With independent free market grading companies, you don't have to worry about your teachers -- as long as your student is passing independent testing, you know they're doing great.

          No, you'd know that they're being taught how to pass some third party standard which is probably going to make them corporate drones. The companies in turn don't give a damn since they're importing all their actual non-drone workers from asia and using visas to keep them in line.

          Go to your township tomorrow, get a budget of the local education system, and divide it by teachers. Guess what? You'll probably come up with a 70% loss rate -- where'd the money go? To the bureaucrats!

          Since we all know that facilities, supplies, non-teacher workers (janitors, security guards, etc.), field trips, after school programs don't cost anything.

          they might also pick a school that sticks with the same basic education text books for a few years rather than replacing them every year with little-to-no difference.

          Have you even GONE to a public school in the US or do you just pull all of this out of your ass? I mean, hell in my elementary school we used books from the 70s and 80s due to budget reasons, they only got new ones when the old ones became so inconsistent or plain old as to be unusable.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          dada, do you really support a Wal*Mart for education? Honestly, the schools are broken, but there's better ways to fix the blasted thing than to completely abolish it and "let free market work its wonders."

          Here's a clue. Wal*Mart can charge so little for two reasons: they are gigantic, and their product are crap.

          For point one, the government is gigantic. For good or bad, they do have the infrustructure already in place to handle this shit. We aren't funding our schools enough. I mean for fuck's s
          • by Cadallin (863437)
            Damn straight. Thank you for calling that bastard on his Libertarian "Seig Heil!" the Corporation Bullshit.
        • by Hebbinator (1001954) on Monday November 13, 2006 @02:55AM (#16820694)
          No way. Not even close.

          Public education programs like M2M in Georgia (majority to minority) give kids from downtown atlanta a chance to get a better public education in the 'burbs on the state's dime. Many of these kids are from low income families where education is not exactly an emphasis.

          A lot of these kids who I graduated with were insistant on getting formal "college prep" education, and the schools downtown focus on "job prep" degrees.. in a free market, these students would have been lost in the ghetto forever.

          As for "no truely competitive markets that are bad for the poor" - the only thing more ridiculous than liberal idealism is economic idealism. There is no such thing as a "truely competitive market," and if there was, the poor would be the last ones to be able to take advantage of it. Poor people are at the disadvantage of not being able to drive around like people with cars and BP cards, so shopping around isnt exactly an option. Maybe you've heard of the "food desert" theory of urban nutrition? People without vehicles have to go where they can walk or where the bus can take them. You would leave a lot of kids out in the cold - the whole American Dream(tm) where a kid from the most humble upbringing can get an education and a good job depends heavily on standardized public education.

          Now, our public school system as a whole is very corrupted, but I think that the tenure system put in place by teachers unions is the root of the problem. Young, freshly educated teachers are put in the worst possible situations and have to spend years to get anywhere in the system, while old crotchety dinosaurs climb the ranks and get the raises merely because they have been there the longest... not exactly a good formula for growth and development, eh? Also, it leads to a lot of "I put my time in, I'm getting mine" behavior - there was a scandal around here with teachers 'retiring' and getting rehired immediately so that they could be drawing pensions AND getting paid their salaries.. its stealing, plain and simple. Taking twice the paycheck for doing the same amount of work, taking money away from the education system in the process. SOMETHING needs to change, but I don't feel like a Free Market system would be the right choice.

          Im all for a free-market TEACHER system with standardized testing. Maybe try and adjust it with a baseline score to reflect improvement versus just raw scores to avoid punishing educators in less educated-oriented environments.. Give raises to the teachers who TEACH. Just make sure they dont take a dive for the pre-test...

          This is all a ramble- its like 3am here and i've been studying medchem all day.. take from it what you will. Remember though, its like grandaddy said:

          "if there was an easy answer, no one would have to argue about it, would they?"
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by bogjobber (880402)

          Show me one truely competitive market that is bad to the poor -- I haven't found any in all my history of debating this debate.

          How about private police? Private firefighters? Private hospitals? Private schools? All of these were the norm before the government (mostly) took over. And guess what, poor people couldn't afford them. You are assuming that just because education would become cheaper overall that it would still be affordable for poor people. Without a government monopoly these things ar

          • by giorgiofr (887762)
            Without a government monopoly these things are extremely expensive.

            Yeah right everybody knows that the gov't is more efficient and wastes less money than private companies that are actually interested in keeping their customers. Oh wait.
        • by drsmithy (35869)

          That's a pretty ridiculous concept, actually, considering that the free market of competition helps the poor more than it helps the rich.

          How do you figure that ?

          For example, look at Jiffy Lube. Sure, everyone can probably change their oil themselves, but I get my oil changes for all my vehicles for $17.99 (with coupon) at Jiffy Lube. So do a lot of poor people.

          Exactly. And because you're "rich", you have more disposable income leftover after paying for a service with a price set so the poor can afford

        • by YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) on Monday November 13, 2006 @04:58AM (#16821158) Homepage
          Education is important, people know this and will pay anything they can muster to get the best education for their children. Companies know this. If you leave education to the forces of the free market, prices of education will just rise ad infinitum, as their is not a point that parents will say 'this education thing is too expensive, little Joe doesn't need any'. The companies will just bleed em dry.

          Same basically as the American healthcare system ... there's isn't a point where people say 'curing this cancer is too expensive, forget it'. So what are you left with? The most expensive system in the world with the least actual care and the highest number of uninsured citizens for any first world country.

          I think you really need to rethink your 'let the free market sort it out' kind of philosophy.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SwiftOne (11497)
          Show me one truely competitive market that is bad to the poor -- I haven't found any in all my history of debating this debate.

          Wrong question - Can you find poor areas that don't have Wal-Marts? While I don't know about Wal-Mart itself, I do know that a lot of businesses avoid high-crime, low-income areas, which are generally the areas that are suffering the most from the inadequacies of the current system.

          Competitive markets are based on two things: profit margins, and that some companies will fail.

      • by shirai (42309) on Monday November 13, 2006 @03:30AM (#16820836) Homepage
        You've made bad assumptions in the equation.

        That the "buyer" of public education is a citizen. But it doesn't have to be.

        The "buyer" of public education can remain, as it is now, the government. By this criteria, the government decides how to reward schools for good performance and part of that could be rewarding for improving education in poor areas. In other words, the system breaking down under your analysis assumes that the citizens pay and rich citizens can pay more. This part of the free market system actually already exists. It's called a private school.

        What the department of education is doing is creating competition within their suppliers of education (i.e. public schools).

        I'd say, if you "objectively" rate education levels and reward based on objective criteria, this system has a chance of working.

        Make no mistake, an algorithm for doing this requires some thought, but I think it can be done.

        For example, consider this:

        Schools earn x-y dollars per student where the actual value is determined by an objective performance measurement

        Objective performance measurements are done nationally.

        The performance measurement changes year by year based on national averages.

        Of course, this does mean that areas pre-disposed to have smarter kids (e.g. rich kids who can afford better education aids, tutors, books, etc.) would tend to have better schools because it is easier to get better results but these schools would also tend to have more competition.

        The free market would come up with innovative ways to tap the lower end market with new education ideas. Possibly things like more computer aided teaching so that there could be a lower teacher/student ratio without sacrificing education quality. Never underestimate the power of a free market and the desire to earn a buck.

        Imagine if you were an entertainment company and you could sell software to schools that would teach kids how to read at an accelerated pace in a fun environment with less teacher involvement. Make kids want to learn. You'd have an automatic market for your product because the schools would want to buy it to increase their bottom line.

        I know there are issues with this model but I also believe that a model can be designed that would ultimately be quite simple that would work and, I bet you almost any amount of money, you'd see amazingly innovative ideas that would give us better education cheaper.

        Sunny
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by caudron (466327)

          Schools earn x-y dollars per student where the actual value is determined by an objective performance measurement

          Excellent. Schools that suffer the poorest performance, hence need the most help, get the least funding. Bravo. You've managed to reverse engineer the existing problem to perfection while maintaining that your new and fresh 'solution' is a bright alternative. You have a strong future in School Board politics.

          Seriously, the vast vast vast majority of people who complain about and make decision

      • But letting the "free market" handle it is suicide. You'd end up with multiple "tiers" of schools. Good schools for rich people, bad schools for poor people. Which is exactly how it is now, except that the poor people would be even WORSE off, because they'd be paying more, and wouldn't get any funding from the state to fix things, or any hope of changing the situation through elections.

        a few seconds of google-fu and you can check your dire predictions against school voucher programs in practice.

        A few artic
    • by Salvance (1014001) *
      I'm not sure that removing publicly funded schools is the answer either. Who would pay for the kids in poor areas where most parents can barely pay for rent and food, let alone education? Removing the public funds would take us back to an era where poor children had little or no education, couldn't read or write, and were destined for back breaking manual labor which they didn't even have the education/smarts to object to. The opportunities afforded these children by publicly funded schools are phenomena
      • by dada21 (163177) *
        I'm not sure that removing publicly funded schools is the answer either. Who would pay for the kids in poor areas where most parents can barely pay for rent and food, let alone education? Removing the public funds would take us back to an era where poor children had little or no education, couldn't read or write, and were destined for back breaking manual labor which they didn't even have the education/smarts to object to. The opportunities afforded these children by publicly funded schools are phenomenal w
        • by Salvance (1014001) * on Monday November 13, 2006 @01:14AM (#16820232) Homepage Journal
          Have you ever done taxes for someone who makes relatively little money? I do for quite a few, every year. They pay almost nothing in taxes. A friend of mine made $32,000 in 2005 (I'm actually looking at his tax return right now). He paid $1,400 in federal taxes, $400 in state taxes, and $2,400 in FICA. At the end of the year, he received back $5,000 (due to 100% refund of fed/state + child tax credit) - or $800 more than he paid. There's no possible way that he could afford his 2 children's education if we reduced his taxes any further, since they are already nothing.

          Most families with children who make under 30 or 35K per year are in the same boat. If we eliminated property tax for landlords, this would amount to approximately $50-100 per month on an apartment valued at $50K. This would not solve the problem. And if we removed employer paid FICA, this would just kill Social Security and Medicare, which is all most of our poor population has to rely on after 65.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Copid (137416)

          When the poor are so heavily taxes, the poor have fewer choices. We all could do more for ourselves if we were not taxed so heavily. Go back 30 years and the household tax rate was under 15%, and I believe under 8% a decade or two before that. Any wonder that both parents have to work today?

          This is for the US? I would dearly love to see your sources on this. Mine indicate that before the 1980s, income tax rates were significantly higher at the higher ends of incomes, although I'd be interested in seeing

    • by Selanit (192811)

      The parent wrote:

      Shouldn't various students of various abilities be judged to their level by what the market needs? Shouldn't education be partially based on what will be required of the student if they were to enter the industry at a certain knowledge level?

      It's an awfully good thing you chose to put the word "partially" in there. As I see it, education is supposed to produce people who can:

      1. Make reasonably informed decisions on a wide range of issues.
      2. Recognize when they're not sufficiently informed
    • by Anne Honime (828246) on Monday November 13, 2006 @01:13AM (#16820228)

      This is unbelievable and one of the reasons I've always "lobbied" against public education where teachers are also graders. It is my firm belief that you don't grade your own work.

      You've never taught, have you ? Grading is by far the most time consuming part of the job, and the most unpleasant. It's so f*cking boring that I'd have rather filtered raw sewage by hand than do it, sometimes. Why ? Because after reading 10 times the same half-learned, half out-of-ass statements, including blatant ripoffs of the immediate neighbours, you're completely fed up, and you know you've still got 30 to go. In my branch, one essay is roughly 15 minutes worth of my time, do the maths.

      Teaching is pleasant ; I'd be more than happy to have someone else grade for me. But it's so damn exhausting that it takes a teacher dedication to do it. I can't count how many times I was offered money to grade some private inter-universities competitions between students (sort of extracurricular events to know who's pissing farther) and flatly turned them down. Nobody in his right mind would grade alone, even for money.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dario Molina (1026536)

        You've never taught, have you ? (...) Nobody in his right mind would grade alone, even for money.

        I tought for 12 years in high-school and undergraduate college courses, and fully agree with you in one thing: grading sucks!

        In the other hand, in many situations I felt that grading my own students was unfair. As a teacher, you have some freedom at designing tests, or even grading the answers. There's always a gap for teachers' own personal criteria, that can be influenced by it's own performance (extremes

    • by Squarewav (241189)
      I grew up as an army brat, and as such I've been to a lot of schools. Everything from military driven in overseas army stations to ghetto to upper class. The schools in upper class areas have almost always been better then the ones in ghetto areas (Better teachers, newer books).

      One school I went to was both privatively funded and government funded as it was the only school in the county. Being that it was classified as a private school it was free to teach whatever it wanted and spend money on whatever. Si
    • by drsmithy (35869)

      I'm against publicly funded education entirely [...]

      While it's not at all surprising someone thinks the public education system could be improved (and from what I've gathered, the US has one of the worst systems in the world), the mind-boggling clusterfuck that would result from fully-privatised education would be infinitely worse.

      (Unless, of course, you're trying to go back to the good old days of distinct societal classes, in which case it'd work a treat.)

      Universal, publically-funded education might n

  • by Salvance (1014001) * on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:38AM (#16820028) Homepage Journal
    I for one, am a huge proponent of this type of approach. In almost any corporation in America, there are bonuses that are offered when someone performs well. Teachers (and many other Union jobs) don't have such performance bonuses in place. Why not? Sure, you have to worry a little about cheating, but I have to (maybe naively) believe that teachers will not be slipping students answers to achievement tests while school administrators are monitoring test taking progress. Plus, the statistical analyses referred to in the article should catch teachers that are this egregious.

    We expect our teachers to put more and more hours in (most work tons of nights and weekend hours) for "the love of the children", and without any incremental pay. Shouldn't we reward them for their good work? Instead, we treat all teachers the same, and then provide tenure after 5 years (or so, depending on the school/state) that protects even the poor performing teachers. This is detrimental to our children, our future, and to our teachers.

    The only problem I see with the program is that it only addresses at-risk schools. While school teachers in more affluent areas often get paid more (in my area, the difference is ~$15,000 between the wealthy and inner city school teachers), saying they shouldn't be compensated for good performance is like saying our "at risk" students matter more than everyone else. Rolling out the bonus program to all school districts could be a huge win for our education system.
    • by houghi (78078)
      but I have to (maybe naively) believe that teachers will not be slipping students answers to achievement tests


      Well, I hope they do, although not in the way you might think. It is called teaching. From the students point of view is is called learning
    • I for one, am a huge proponent of this type of approach. In almost any corporation in America, there are bonuses that are offered when someone performs well.

      I'll give you an example of how this approach can fail badly if the wrong performance metrics are used - the example is from health care but it still applies. In my state (not in the USA) we have a system where hospitals get a bonus dependent on the number and type of complex procedures performed. A hospital administrator had a perfect employee for t

  • by Broken scope (973885) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:39AM (#16820038) Homepage
    Great. just what i wanted, my grades and my work to mean even less. Thank you god for people who cheapen the entire system and ruin my credibility as a student.
  • by Archeopteryx (4648) * <benburch&pobox,com> on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:39AM (#16820040) Homepage
    Chicago schools are nowhere near equal to one another. Some are fine. Others are worse than what you would imagine conditions are in third world countries.

    My friend taught science and math in a Chicago school in a poor neighborhood.

    In all the years he taught there; they NEVER had books, they NEVER had lab supplies, they SELDOM had working AV equipment, they NEVER had a computer.

    Not that this effected the average grades, because any grade he assigned that was below a C was magically changed to a C by the principal.

    How the fsck can you teach school without books?

    I submit to you that basing his pay on the number of A's is corrupt in the extreme. (Though, thankfully, he is retired now.)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "I submit to you that basing his pay on the number of A's is corrupt in the extreme."

      Why do you think that's what they're doing? It seems more like they're paying bonuses for something like number of students with SAT scores over 1200. I.e. an *external* test, not a test created and graded by the teacher.

      The cooking the books issue is about doing things like answering questions during the test.
      • You totally miss the point.

        How do you suppose those children will score more than 400 on a 1200 point scale given those conditions of education.

        Isn't going to happen whether you use teacher assigned A's or SAT assigned numbers.
  • by feepness (543479) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:41AM (#16820050) Homepage
    ...of the story where the clueless manager gave out $50 for each bug a programmer fixed.
  • by zefram cochrane (761180) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:45AM (#16820076)
    In theory this is a great idea, give bonuses to teachers that are doing their jobs well. However, in practice....I fear that we will only see exams getting easier and the children being taught less and less. We will see classes being taught to the children at the bottom of the bell curve rather than the middle...and instead of screwing up the gifted children's education....everyone will suffer. Isn't it bad enough that we are teaching classes to prepare the children for standardized tests, and then don't cover a lot of information that isn't on those tests just for the sake of raising test scores?
    • However, in practice....I fear that we will only see exams getting easier and the children being taught less and less.

      I don't think the exams will get easier since they are standardized tests (I did not RTFA, but the summary seems to say that). The teachers who stand to benefit from easier tests shouldn't be the ones creating the tests.
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:49AM (#16820100)
    Nothing will be possible without instilling discipline in American schools. One only needs to visit schools even in the 3rd world to see how much discipline there is in schools over there. No wonder the products of those schools come over here and excel, leaving American kids behind!

    What hurts me most is the fact that these kids excel at written English and write much better essays yet they have to learn the language in addition to their vernaculars. American kids, who [mostly] speak English from childhood have horrible English, so solve the discipline question then we can go from there.

    • by Mard (614649) on Monday November 13, 2006 @01:12AM (#16820216)
      The reason there is no discipline in American schools is because we live in a nation where even if you skip classes and cheat on the exams, you'll get a job that pays enough to live comfortably. Most countries you would likely cite for discipline have actual competitive markets if you want a job that will keep you out of relative poverty. The solution is not simple, and would likely require a reform of our nation's entire education system. One idea that comes to mind is a two-tiered high school degree. One basic high school diploma, and one advanced high school diploma which is awarded to students to excel in standard courses or does average in advanced placement courses.

      I have some experience which proves that Americans can learn discipline in school: here in Niceville Florida, some high school students are allowed to attend what is called a "collegiate high school." What this means is that they are taking college level courses with other high school and college students at Okaloosa Walton College. They are given high school credit AND college credit, and after two years taking a college work load they are given a high school diploma AND a two-year AA degree, which transfers 100% to any Florida university or college. Obviously this explanation is greatly simplified, but the system works and the students are far more disciplined than those at any high school I ever attended. Note that I'm just a college student at OWC, so I don't have much info on the college high school system, but I'm sure you could find more on their website: http://www.owcollegiatehigh.org/ [owcollegiatehigh.org] . I believe the system is funded by state taxes and the students pay absolutely nil, but they are dropped from the system if they do not maintain a reasonable GPA, and attendance is as strict as high school.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ibag (101144)
      I agree that fixing the discipline problem is probably the single most important thing that can be done in schools, but I don't think that it is something that can be done alone. You can't get kids to be disciplined about their work unless they either feel it is important or they feel there are consequences to doing poorly. This won't happen unless there is a dramatic shift in American culture. Parents need to be involved, teachers need to be competent, students need to stop viewing being knowledgeable a
    • by evilviper (135110)

      Nothing will be possible without instilling discipline in American schools.

      Right... It's the kids' fault their biology teacher flunked out of medical school, and can just barely work up the motivation to stand up at the beginning of the class, and tell them what pages to read, and which questions to answer... BTW, that's not a made-up senario, either.

      IMHO, and I speak from my own experience, the biggest of the problems is the lowest-common-denominator education. For the first 6 years, they teach you how

    • Schools are in general war zones, with different factions. In the West, we support the factions traditionally associated with stupidity. Western education is geared towards the lowest common denominator when it comes to academic achievement and teaching children their cultural heritage, thier civic duties and their history. On the other hand it is geared towards catering for the highest common denominator when it comes to things like sports.

      We need to reorient our education system to move away from supporti
  • To any teacher who upgrades this to First Post!
  • Freakonomics (Score:2, Informative)

    by Lars83 (901821)
    The chapter in Freakonomics about cheating teachers deals with this. If you have any interest in learning about how they detect such behavior, give the book a read.
    • { loaning parent some karma }

      The chapter in Freakonomics about cheating teachers deals with this. If you have any interest in learning about how they detect such behavior, give the book a read.
    • It also makes it clear that the tests could be defeated by anybody with statistical knowledge, and that in the long term they could be defeated by extensive collusion. My belief is that this approach will simply lead to a gradual slide in standards owing to the incentive to everybody in the system to cheat as a whole rather than individually.

      There is only one answer, really. It is to treat teaching like any other career, and seek to recruit and promote the best by proper incentives. Such schemes already exi

  • Score-related bonuses guarantee that teachers will "teach to the test."

    This is a good thing if the test is a good one - meaning, if the test evaluates authentic skills in an authentic application.

    The unfortunate reality: standardized tests are rarely (if ever) authentic assessments of student learning.
    • by MrMickS (568778)
      Mod the parent up. Since the introduction of a similar system in the UK, teachers set an assess coursework that counts towards final grades, the product of the education system has deteriorated.

      We have a system which rates schools based on their performance. The only measurement of performance is final grades. This has lead over the last 10 years to lessons becoming little more than coaching sessions. Children are taught how to pass exams rather than being taught a subject and then being examined on that

  • by Anthony Boyd (242971) on Monday November 13, 2006 @01:07AM (#16820200) Homepage
    Any fears that teachers might cook the books to score a typical $5,000 payoff? Not to worry, says Chicago's school chief, there are statistical analyses in place that spot testing irregularities, presumably better at catching Cheaters than those used in the past.

    <sarcasm>
    Yes, I'm sure their system will catch this stuff, too [bloomberg.com]. How? Magic, maybe.
    </sarcasm>

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by indraneil (1011639)
      Actually I have no idea if the case that you pointed out is something that can be caught statistically (I would think not!)
      However I read this interesting chapter from the book Freakonomics [bsx.ru] [PDF] where they identify the teachers who might be trying to fudge the system to make their students score better! Read the chapter called "What Do Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers Have in Common?" to identify how the economist Levitt is identifying the people.
      Having said that, I am not sure it helps doing this at a
      • by vidarh (309115)
        The problem isn't incentives. The problem is ensuring the incentive rewards the right behavior, which ultimately mean that it depends on how you measure the criteria for awarding the incentive.

        In the case of teachers, apart from ensuring testing is done by entirely different people, without the teachers present, one possibility is to include an assessment of students feedbacks in the evaluation: Make all the students fill out a questionnaire about their teachers. Of course you would have to treat such ass

  • Probably not a smart idea. Even at first glance, either 1) tests will not be standardized and all this will do will distort what constitutes an "A" or 2) tests will be standardized and this will create widespread "Teaching to the Test."

    In scenario 1, this is bad because it creates an obvious incentive to grade very kindly. People can try to test for that influence to prevent it all they want, but if they create a market out of good grades, the market is going to react.

    Scenario 2 doesn't fair much better,
  • The power to tax is the power to destroy. When the federal government taxes people and gives it back to the states with strings attatched, it is destroying state sovereignty.

    This only breads corruption. It is going to encourage educational institutions to cook the books, as the author says, in order to get money. The solution would be to give money with no strings attatched, in hopes that districts would be able to improve education (not just test scores) that way.

    Block grants or vouchers would be the key.
    • Actually, states fund their own educational programs. They receive only supplemental funding from the federal government. States of course are free to reject that additional money if they so choose.

      It's absolutely ludicrous to believe, further, that vouchers or private "free market" schools would solve any of the problems facing this nation. The wealthy school districts already have better schools, properly funded and with the requisite community support. The free market wouldn't lift up the crappy s
  • This is a really bad idea. It will only encourage teaching for the test. I think the whole school culture has to be changed. You should be teaching to learn, not for tests. You need to make school enjoyable, not a torture system where you are forced to peform or else your teacher goes hungry? This idea total ignores the fact that your whether you get an A or not in a 8th grade science test will most likely not affect the rest of your life. If teachers are putting pressure on kids to perform, it will make sc
  • supply the teachers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by opencity (582224) on Monday November 13, 2006 @01:45AM (#16820392) Homepage
    In NYC the Public Schools are broken. Teachers have to buy their own supplies. Mayor Bloomberg's (like the company, not the mayor) corporate management style has resulted in elementary school students being taught nothing except taking tests. I'm a private music teacher and I try to sneak some math in, especially for the younger kids. When I ask them about what they're learning in math or science they used to discuss it with me for a while (giving us both a break from scales and theory) - for the past year they just shrug and say 'studying to take the test.' The overpaid Bloomberg cronies at the Board of Ed actually spy on the teachers to make sure they aren't deviating from the 'lesson plan'.

    Between the pharmaceutical companies and the bureaucrats kids today are being used as test subjects. I'm considering home schooling.
    • is not *necessarily* bad.

      The big problem the US has with education is that people haven't agreed on a problem statement.

      If there's a standardized curriculum (which most industrialized countries have); if there's a core set of knowledge and skills that everyone thinks are indispensable for a citizen; if there's a standardized test that accurately measures those -- then the test is simply a necessary feedback mechanism and "teaching to the test" simply means concentrating on the basics.

      Every one of those "if"
      • by opencity (582224)
        I find you have to engage different kids differently. Of course with underfunding, overcrowding and no school supplies this probably isn't possible. The problem I see with teaching for the test is they seem to retain less information so in order to drag all students through a #2 pencil afternoon (they still use those?) no application is taught, the mind isn't engaged and it's emptied ASAP. There are sociological and political problems here but in the interest of sectarian detente on /. I won't launch into t
  • The Real Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kisanth88 (593283) on Monday November 13, 2006 @02:03AM (#16820470)
    The only real solution to our American education system is to figure the average amount nationwide that all schools have for their budget.

    Double that number and then increase all corporate american taxes to get an amount of money equal that doubled number. (Corporations benefit from well educated workers, so should be willing to pay to get them)

    Then distribute this amount of money evenly to all schools nationwide based upon the number of students that were enlisted in the previous year. Beyond that the federal government should have no say other than that money should be spent by the school district it was allocated to ONLY. Let the states manage their educational systems. Increase this number and the tax amount by the previous year's inflation numbers published by the federal reserve and you have a well funded local educational system.

    This has the dual effect of increasing nearly all school's budgets (and rich parents can still donate money in rich areas if they want an elite school) and at the same time reducing the dependence on local property values for school income (and theoretically reduce local taxes) This is Democratization of American Education.

    And to the critics that say doubling the amount spent on average in American public schools - public education is the ONE thing that this nation can throw money "away" on or "spend money frivilously on".

    John B
    • Obviously (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shivetya (243324)
      you have never even looked into the subject of school funding. Let alone looked at why some schools do better than others. I have as many others here have.

      Guess what, it isn't money that makes a school better. If so you could not have systems that spend 10k doing worse than those spending 6k per student by your logic.

      The only good point you had was getting the feds out of education. Everything they touch turns into a mess. You must also get the unions out of education. The various teacher unions must
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by argStyopa (232550)
      I'd agree in principle, but with a few caveats.

      1) The United States is a democratic republic. There are plenty of reasons that power needs to remain at the state levels, not least because different regions have different feelings for the value of education. Rather than universalize the funding (across the US) I'd agree that such a plan is both more palatable, and more consistent with the original vision of the US by doing it on a state-by-state basis, dividing up the 'pot' of tax money paid within a state
    • Is that the intent of the additional money is to bring in higher value. You have a poorly performing system, let's say it's a car repair shop. You pay them $X on average for repairs. They do a poor job and your car is repeatedly breaking down. So you decide to solve the problem by throwing more money into repairs. Lets say you're now willing to pay on average $X+$Y for each repair. Do you now go back to the same repair shop and say "I will give you $Y more money, now please do a better job fixing my c
  • New Math 2.0 will be introduced so that 2 + 2 = 5 will earn a student a perfect grade every time. Remember that it's not about the student knowing what he or she needs to know, it's all about being number one in the stats!
  • by Heir Of The Mess (939658) on Monday November 13, 2006 @02:10AM (#16820500) Homepage

    The teachers should get a bonus according to the amount that they have improved the student's level of education over the year that they spent with the teacher. You look at their grades for the year before they were with the teacher, and the grades for the year after, and the teacher gets a bonus according to the improvement. That way the teacher is making an investment in their own future by improving the student's education.

    This elimates some of the cheating problem.

    • The problem with that system is that education is not an exact science, teachers would realistically have no control over a student's grades. A student could do exceptionally well in middle school math, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll do well in statistics. A grammar student wouldn't necessarily do well in literature. Chemistry, biology, physics, geology, astronomy (etc) are uncomparable yet they all fall under the catagory of "science."
    • by Kjella (173770)
      Except when do you have three comparable years? My education was split like 6,3,3,3 years (not counting university studies) at different schools - presumably the middle 4,1,1,1 could be comparable, if it wasn't for the fact that hardly any subject was the same, and even those who remained in name changed drasticly from for example writing to literature study. Not to mention how many disgruntled teachers you'd have over lenient first-year techers and stringent last-year teachers, which would become a problem
  • by davmoo (63521) on Monday November 13, 2006 @02:19AM (#16820538)
    They've got it backwards. Instead of rewarding teachers for good grades, they should tax the parent(s) for poor grades. A teacher can only do so much, and they can't do a damned thing without the parent(s) taking an interest. Behind the majority of kids doing poorly in school is a parent that doesn't give a damn.
  • How about... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by David_Shultz (750615) on Monday November 13, 2006 @02:23AM (#16820556)
    How about... giving more money to all teachers and attracting better talent? It is obvious and uncontroversial that offering more money gets you more skilled people. However, for some reason, when it comes to education people ignore this fact. If you want to provide incentives to get better teaching, raise salaries! Offering a prize for performance is just an underhanded way of trying to save money on your incentives -you are giving all the teachers a lottery ticket instead of cash. Worse than that, it clearly encourages cheating.
  • by ookabooka (731013) on Monday November 13, 2006 @02:30AM (#16820582)
    I love the way we are taking education these days. I am currently in college and I notice that the institution is not at all what I expected. No one goes because they want to learn more about their field and want to be educated about it, they go because it is a certification they can put on their resume, which will determine if they get hired or not, or determine if they make $35K a year or $75K a year. I don't even know who I am angry at, the managers of the corporations that use college degrees instead of work experience to determine a candidate's worth, or the universities that take in tuition and try to pump out degrees with little idea at whether the student is actually "educated" or if they just learned "how to replicate the process" for the test and then forgot the information the next day.
    This applies here too. Essentially they are assessing worth by attaching a numerical value to "intelligence" or "education". Most of the time if you just went to these schools and sat down in the classes you would get a better idea than assigning some standardized test. Then again, the costs associated with that would be astronomical and end up taking away from what the schools have. . .I guess standardized testing is just the best solution at the moment.
    I don't care what you mod me (if at all) this was just a stupid rant, I just wonder if its me or if others out there agree.
  • One obvious way to game this system is to push out the low-performing students, thus raising the averages. Then, just as in the "Texas miracle", you cook the books and falsify the dropout rate [rethinkingschools.org].
  • juss testin' out sum shit. yo yall gotz ein problem mit das?

    ket gutchar tung? nah, eye meen ta say dis
  • Is this really, from a national point of view, a worthwhile use of the education system?

    I'd think that it would be good if the students knew their subject matter, which, as a side effect, might also increase the test scores. But if you pay the teachers after the test scores of their students, they will teach how to score high in tests, not how to understand the subject matter.

    For the individual student it may be a competitive advantage to optimize solely after high test scores. But only if the other stude
  • by Fross (83754) on Monday November 13, 2006 @05:54AM (#16821376) Homepage
    in the UK, we have "league tables" of A-level and GCSE results (the exams you take before attending university, and two years previously respectively, for those not familiar with them). these are published nationally every year.

    this has lead to a race of "dumbing down" of examinations. while the exams are not set by the schools, there are several examination boards for each subject, and the schools can pick and choose which ones to set. the schools want higher results, obviously, so they gravitate towards the easier curriculums and examinations. the exam boards try to create the easiest courses they can while still operating within their guidelines (i'm not sure how their regulation works), as the more popular they are, the more money they earn. it's worth noting if you get an A-level in Geography, for instance, it is just that, not an A-level in Geography from xxxx exam board.

    continue this for 15 years, and you end up with vast numbers of students passing. consult http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/2193169.stm [bbc.co.uk] for some statistics. this only covers until 2002, it's continued to rise - 96.2% of entrants passed in 2005. the problem is in effect at the top of the scale too, somewhere around 20% of entrants achieve the top grade, an A or A*. universities are ending up being unable to discern top candidates, and complain about A-grade students lacking skills they used to arrive with in the past. they are considering bringing in their own examinations to grade students' aptitude, a move that would completely undermine A-levels.

    qualifications are meant to sort the top candidates from everyone else, they are elitist by nature. they are not meant to be all-inclusive "gold star for everyone who takes part" affairs where all but the dumbest 4% are awarded a qualification. aiming for higher pass rates shifts the standard down for everybody, and, perhaps most importantly, challenges the best candidates less, leaving them behind their counterparts in other countries who get pushed harder.

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