The Rev. Al Sharpton and New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein blog today (Mar. 13) on The Huffington Post calling for basing teacher pay and tenure decisions on performance.
Sharpton and Klein say that "the shortage of effective teachers in high-poverty schools" stems less from the deficiencies of teachers than from a failed system for encouraging teachers to improve and retaining effective teachers. "It's the system, stupid--and it desperately needs reform."
Sharpton and Klein point out that throughout a teachers' career, that teacher's ability to boost student learning "is poorly assessed (if at all), and virtually never linked to consequences--either positive, as in the case of awarding merit pay, or negative, like being dismissed for poor performance."
A similar problem exists with tenure decisions by school districts:
A new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality reports that "only two states require any evidence of teacher effectiveness to be considered as part of tenure decisions. All other states permit districts to award tenure virtually automatically."
Since 2006, two of the nation's most populous states--California and New York, home to more than 600,000 teachers--have even enacted laws that effectively bar school administrators from considering a teacher's impact on student performance in teacher pay and tenure decisions.
Sharpton and Klein quote Bill Gates:
It is astonishing to me that you could have a system that doesn't allow you to pay more for strong performance, or for teaching in a particular school....That is almost like saying "Teacher performance doesn't matter"--and that's basically saying "Students don't matter."