One of the little suggestions in the recent announcement by the Turnbull Government that they were going to replace a billion dollars of the billions that they ripped out of Education, was the idea of performance pay for teachers. And by, suggestion, I mean that they were going to make it a condition of states getting the money. So it looks like they’ll be demanding that the states introduce performance pay.
Ok, I know most of you have probably read some of the reasons against it. You know, things like in all the places where it’s been introduced, all the studies tell us that it doesn’t improve outcomes. But we don’t need to look at things like that when our Prime Minister has common sense.
Or you may have heard arguments like the idea that it’s better when teachers cooperate and share ideas and strategies which improve learning outcomes for students, rather than jealously guarding their secrets so that they can continue to be the one receiving the performance pay.
Then, of course, in Victoria there’s the point that some teachers after a few years in the classroom, apply for leading teacher positions and a rewarded with a higher salary than if they just progressed up the ranks on the basis of years served. I can’t speak for other states, but there’s no reason that an outstanding teacher in Victoria couldn’t be on a higher pay than the most experienced teacher once they’re no longer a graduate teacher.
But all the arguments ignore how it would actually work in practice.
At the moment, teachers progress up the salary scale by a couple of thousand a year, subject to a satisfactory performance, for the first eleven years of their teaching, but once the Liberals get their way and performance pay is introduced, teachers will only progress up the salary scale on results, not on years of service. And we all want “results”, right?
Except that it’s a little unclear what’s meant by “results”. There are a number of ways I see this happening:
1. All teachers start on a graduate salary of $63,000 and they’re eligible for bonuses if their students do better than the other teachers in their school. These bonuses are paid on a one-off basis each year.
2. All teachers start on a graduate salary of $63,000, and if they meet certain agreed outcomes such as 90% of their students meeting a minimum standard in a test, then they go up an increment to $65,000. This has the obvious problem that not all classes are created equally and for some the figure could be achieved in they approached their teaching like Bernard from “Black Books”, while others could achieve it with their class if the ran intensive classes twelve hours a day for three years before allowing their students to cheat on the final test.
3. All teachers start on a graduate salary of about $63,000. Those who get the best results progress to the next subdivision of $65,000. By best results, we’re talking about the top ten percent of teachers, but this would gradually drop over time till only the top two or three percent gain an incremental pay rise.
4. All teachers start on a graduate salary of about $63,000 and have to achieve certain mandated benchmarks before they receive an incremental. Examples of benchmarks could include things like reducing the number of obese students in the class, reducing unemployment in the area, exposing the climate change conspiracy, curing cancer, reducing the divorce rate or discovering the whereabouts of the Holy Grail. Failure to complete the designated task would mean no increment, and no increment means that the school’s don’t need to spend as much on teacher salaries and this would reduce the education burden so it could be spent on more worthwhile things like submarines, helicopter flights and building the extra jails that we’re sure to need.
4. All teachers are paid $100,000 but from that they have to provide their own books, whiteboard markers, digital tools, furniture, classrooms and pay a levy toward the cost of educating any students beyond secondary level.
So whichever way it goes, you can see that performance pay is an excellent idea because it will enable the Liberal government to ensure that education costs don’t blow-out and that the best and brightest teachers entering the profession realise that they’d be better off joining the private school system, or finding something better to do with their life.
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