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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Well then, what does work?

by folkbum

I noted yesterday that a recent study of performance pay (where "performance" means "your kids get higher standardized test scores) showed that even big-money incentives for teachers had little effect on students. So what will?

As I have written here repeatedly, we have a good idea what we need to do to improve achievement among our worst students, and all of the solutions are ones that a time- and resource-intensive. Significantly. The LA Times ran an op-ed from David Kirp yesterday that made this plain: "Effective education can't be accomplished on the cheap," he says. But he's not talking about paying me or other teachers more.

Instead, things that do work include high-quality preschools, keeping schools open more days and longer hours, much smaller class sizes, and better-funded schools in general. Beyond what's in Kirp's op-ed, we know that other models held up as great successes--things like SEED schools or the Harlem Children's Zone--do what they do in large part because they are supported in significant ways by funds not available to schools that consistently underperform.

If you want to make closing the achievement gap and improving education in the worst areas, make real investments in children's lives and communities rather than throw carrots and sticks at the teachers.

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