That's just what the school system plans to do with a $27.5 million federal grant, which will make Chicago the largest district in the country to experiment with merit pay for teachers. Under the plan, 40 struggling schools with high teacher turnover would hire "master teachers" who would receive an extra $15,000 annually and "mentor teachers" who would make an extra $7,000. They would train staff and help evaluate teachers for bonuses of up to $9,000 a year.While I am not opposed to the idea of merit pay in principle, I think it is tinkering around the edges when it comes to schools with a high concentration of the disadvantaged. The academic underperformance at these schools is so severe that even "master teachers" (whatever that is) are unlikely to make much of a dent. At such schools the whole-class approach does not work. Students lack a minimal academic background, have dismal study habits and the highly behaviorally disordered form a critical mass that effectively shuts down instruction. What is needed is a type of Marshall Plan of small-group instruction that allows a more intense academic involvement under more manageable conditions.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Merit pay experiment
Chicago's schools will start experimenting with merit pay thanks to a generous federal grant: