08/03/2011

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Merit bonuses: Try, try again? On July, 27, 2010, Secretary of Education and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan made this statement to the National Press Club about Chicago’s pay-for-performance program: “…every adult in the building—teachers, clerks, janitors and cafeteria workers—all were rewarded when [a] school improved. It builds a sense of teamwork and gives the whole school a common mission. It can transform a school culture.” However, we know, from studies of similar programs in New York and elsewhere that results of such programs have been inconclusive. In New York City Public Schools, from 2007−2010, teachers chose to receive bonuses based on the test performance of the entire school. Schools were randomly selected for the study from the city’s highest needs schools, and participation was mandatory. After analyzing data from over 200 participating public schools, researchers found no evidence that the bonuses influenced student performance. In fact, in some schools, student performance actually decreased during the trial. In 2006–2009, Vanderbilt University conducted a merit pay study that offered randomly selected middle-school math teachers up to $15,000 to increase student test scores. The result: Their students progressed no faster than the students of teachers not selected. And last year, Learning Point Associates conducted a review of Iowa’s merit pay program and found insufficient student test data to determine the real impact of the program on student achievement. Education Week blogger Justin Baeder points out what most teachers are probably thinking: “Teaching is highly complex…and teachers are already motivated.” So if it isn’t money, what...
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Top 12 Priorities for Implementing a One-to-One Program It's one thing for school to have technology and a very different thing to implement it—and do so effectively. As McREL's Howard Pitler wrote recently in THE Journal, data gathered from observations in 60,000 schools showed that, even in classrooms with numerous technology devices available, 63 percent of teachers used no technology at all. So, before you embark on a one-to-one laptop initiative, here are some tips for getting the most out of your school's program. Do your homework. Read up on lessons learned from Maine’s one-to-one initiative, for example, and what the NSF-funded study of Henrico County Public School’s one-to-one program found. Decide if the school has the funding to purchase all of the computing devices or will allow a mixture of school- and student-owned computers. Student-owned computers will save you some money but will require a technical services department with the capacity and skill to support multiple devices. Decide upon a nucleus of cloud computing services and software tools that will be consistent across the school. This will help teachers spend their time teaching content not software applications. Look for free, high-quality services such as Google Apps for Education. Integrate the school’s curriculum with instructional technology applications and 21st century pedagogy. Identify research-based software/applications/games that can support learning in core content areas. They need to be compatible with the operating system on the computing devices and supported by technical staff. Plan for regular, specific, mandatory professional development. Integrating instructional technology is an ongoing learning curve that never ends....

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