Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Incentive failures and teachers' goals

What kind of pay supplement would it take to lure strong teachers to move from their current jobs to schools serving high concentrations of children of poverty? The Center for Teaching Quality and the NEA cite three programs that didn't offer enough to get change:
  • A decade ago, when South Carolina set out to recruit “teacher specialists” to work in the state’s weakest schools, an $18,000 bonus attracted only 20 percent of the 500 teachers needed in the program’s first year and only 40 percent after three years.
  • More recently, Palm Beach School District in Florida eliminated its $7,500 high-needs school stipend after it failed to attract enough teachers.
  • In Dallas, an offer of $6,000 to entice accomplished teachers to move to challenging schools generated little interest, so the district is now offering $10,000 plus job security.
In Children of Poverty Deserve Great Teachers, the two organizations argue that $10,000 is likely to be the needed pay increment to entice major movement, and even that will not work without other non-pay incentives like planning time, small classes, and administrative support.
"Working conditions matter a great deal," they advise in the report available here.

That makes sense to me. Very few people choose careers solely to maximize their earnings. Nearly all look instead for a mix of earnings and job satisfaction. To recruit teachers who are already successful in their current jobs, high-need schools must promise a similar chance to feel and be effective. Without that, pay alone will not get many people to switch jobs.

1 comment:

  1. Those school districts need to do some research. Anyone who has taken a basic management class knows that the idea that paying more=better work was the method most commonly used in the 1940s. People now are looking for social incentives as this blog post suggests, planning time, time off, small class, technology resources, etc.


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