Who hasn’t had experience of teachers across the performance spectrum?
I can remember a few excellent teachers, a mercifully small number of really bad ones and a lot spread between the two extremes.
This is of course a subjective view. Finding an objective system of measuring teacher performance is no easy matter, but it is vital if we want to improve teaching standards and pupils’ performance as Education Minister Hekia Parata said on Q&A:
I think the single biggest challenge we have is to raise achievement, and improving teacher quality is going to directly contribute to that. . .
. . . I think the first thing that has to be on the table is having a robust and reliable appraisal system that allows us to make those kinds of differentiations. If we want to raise teacher quality, we have to identify who is delivering successful practice and make that common practice. We have to identify where we need to improve the professional learning and development so that teachers can engage with students successfully and our students’ achievement is raised. . .
. . . And the point of an appraisal system is not to punish or blame but to identify where the best practice is occurring, how we get that happening across all schools and where improvement needs to occur and how we get support in. . .
Once a good appraisal system is found, performance based pay is a logical next step. The Minister is neither ruling it in nor out but she does identify a problem with the current system of pay for teachers:
Well, at the moment the starting salary for teachers is, I think, just over $50,000, and it can range through to over $200,000 for principals, so there is a broad range, but what I think the workforce taskforce reported last year was that we needed to look at the structure of the career pathways so that excellent teachers aren’t forced to become leaders or managers – in other words taken out of the classroom situation – because that would be the only way they could get a pay increase. So we have to look at that. We have to look at what the structure of career progression is and how we pay that.
The best way for teachers to improve their pay under the current system is to get out of the classroom and into administration.
That means that really good teachers aren’t paid what they deserve if they keep on teaching and not-so-good teachers get paid the same as better ones.
That isn’t good for the profession or the pupils.
Poor quality teaching is one of the contributing factors to the long tail of under-achievers in our education system, paying good teachers more could be part of the solution.