27. Performance-Based Teacher Pay

A primary education teacher’s pay should be based, at least in part, on a formula that includes the number of students taught by the teacher as well as some form of measure of their students’ success in learning the material. For example, a school district could set the reference point salary figure (standard pay) for a 5th grade teacher with 30 students who score a combined average of 75% on a series of non-teacher-authored tests throughout the year at $60,000 per year (that is, $2,000 per student). If that teacher decided to teach only 29 students, that teacher would take a deduction in pay equivalent to 150% of the per student compensation rate. In this example, that deduction would be $3,000. If the teacher decided to teach only 28 students, the deduction would be $6,000. On the other hand, for every additional student the teacher decides to teach, compensation would increase by only 100% of the per student rate, $2,000 in this example. Compensation for each additional student would not increase by more than 100% of the per student compensation rate to discourage classes from becoming too large and teachers from spreading themselves too thin.

In a similar way, also factored into a teacher’s pay would be the grades the teacher’s class receives in comparison to the school district’s average score within the same grade level. These scores would be determined from non-teacher authored or selected tests, mainly standardized tests. The school district would first need to set the reference point for each teaching position. Again, we will use a sample reference point salary figure of $60,000 for a 5th grade teacher and assume that the district-wide average score 5th grade students receive on standardized tests is 75%. Class scores a certain number of percentage points below the district average would result in the class teacher’s pay being deducted by an equal percentage amount. In contrast, class scores above the district average would result in the teacher’s pay being increased by a percentage equal to 150% of the percentage difference between the district average and actual class scores. For example, if the 5th grade teacher’s class scored a 65% average (which is 10% below the predetermined reference point percentage of 75%), that teacher would take a 10% salary cut (-$6,000). But if the students scored an 85% average (which is 10% above the district average percentage of 75%), the teacher would be rewarded with a 15% (150% of the 10% difference) increase in their salary (+$9,000 in this example).

Of course, teachers tampering with testing or scoring or any other such misconduct would be penalized severely in the form of a big fine that will make them wish they would not have engaged in such misconduct. Cases of clear test or score tampering should be punished by a fine equal to at least 20% of the teacher’s pay for each student whose work was tampered with.

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