Little support for performanced-based pay
By Dave Kirkpatrick
WITH the Howard Government hell-bent on introducing performance-based pay for teachers in Australia, The Northern Star tested the temperature of the local school community on the issue.
We spoke to parents, students, principals and union representatives about the subject, and found almost universal condemnation of the proposal.
The Federal Minister for Education, Julie Bishop, revealed this week she had engaged a consultant to review the results of performance pay in education and other professions overseas.
She favours a system which would link teachers' pay rises to improvements in students' results, as well as parent and pupil reviews of teachers' performances, mentorship, leadership, professional development and specialist skills.
A trial could be set up as early as next year and the Government has indicated that by 2009 school funding will be tied to the introduction of performance-based pay.
But according to the Lismore representative of the NSW Teachers' Federation, Nicole Major, parents of school-aged children should not buy the argument performance pay for teachers would lead to better educational outcomes for their kids.
Ms Major described the possible introduction of performance-based pay as 'one of most ludicrous things I've ever heard of'.
"I don't think you can underestimate the impact a teacher has on a student, and it may not be because of all the measurable curriculum things a teacher does with a student," she said.
"It would create divisions in staff rooms which are very cohesive at the moment. As soon as you introduce who is going to have the best class, with the best students, you introduce this competitiveness which tears apart staffrooms."
Exactly how to measure a teacher's improvement was the major sticking point for Byron High principal Barry Miller.
"If you just look at exam scores statewide it doesn't measure other significant things such as maturity, social adjustment and social development," he said.
Without an adequate way of measuring improvements in a teacher's performance, Mr Miller said there would be little merit in having a trial.
"We need to know a little bit more about what it would mean," Mullumbimby High P&C association president Anne Bowden said. "There are certainly teachers who would benefit from some recognition ... but if it is just going to be based on kids' results in specific tests then it opens up a whole lot of concerns."