Monday, October 10, 2011

Performance Incentives: Someone forgot the students

I constantly read about principals, teachers, and occasionally even parents receiving performance incentives linked to student performance.

The performance pay model where principals and teachers are held accountable for student performance generally doesn't work, because a student's performance is determined by the student. The principals and teachers are valuable shepherds, but any teacher will tell you that if a student doesn't want to learn, he or she won't, no matter what you do.

In the days of yesteryear, there was a stick approach, your parents beat the snot out of you with a belt if you received poor grades.

Those days are long gone in the US.

Here, parental involvement is held up as a way to improve student performance. However, because most parents in the US are pushovers and see their kids as being able to do no wrong, parental involvement has limited effect on student performance in the US.

In China and India, the beat the snot out of your kid if he brings home poor grades approach still exists (the stick approach) hence why they kick our ass on international math and science assessments even when their kids are learning in a classroom environment consisting of mud floor room with one teacher and 80 kids with a piece of chalk.

Since we're not likely to bring back corporal punishment anytime soon... earth to policy makers, it's student performance that we're talking about, we can't use the stick approach, so that leaves the carrot: i.e. the best way to incent student performance is to incent the student.

With the average annual spend per student running $5,000-$10,000, depending on the district, there is plenty of room there to fund student incentives.

I still remember how in elementary school our Principal had a sticker board for all the classes, and at lunch time, if students behaved that day, their class would earn a sticker. If they misbehaved they would receive no sticker, and if their behavior was particularly egregious, the class would lose a sticker. After getting 40 stickers, the class would get a pizza party.

Suffice it to say, we almost never had behavioral problems at lunch.

Kids in K-12 are 'stupid' when it comes to doing things for their own good.

They don't understand that they are in school learning in order to build a knowledge base that will allow them to compete with foreign students and with other people.

K-12 kids are simply not looking at that time horizon.

What they do understand is "if you get straight A's this semester, you'll receive a $250 gift card good at GameStop, Amazon, GAP, etc.."

To a kid in K-12, $250 per semester is a huge amount of money and would serve as an excellent motivator. It's enough to buy a PS3 or XBOX 360, or a bunch of new outfits, or a new set of rollerblades.

Over the course of the K-12 career of a student, assuming the student received straight A's every single semester, this would cost a whopping $6,500 per student!

1 comment:

MGLseed said...

Liked this one! good luck blogger!