Garfield Elementary Teachers Will Not Receive a Performance Bonus

... nor will the teachers at Frank Church High School, Boise's alternative school.

"Virtually everyone agrees that designing and monitoring a Merit Pay program would be a bureaucratic nightmare of almost epic proportions," writes Beth Lewis.

Lewis continues:

Success is difficult, if not impossible, to define and measure. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has already proven how the various unleveled playing fields in the American education system inherently set up a wide variety of standards and expectations. Consider the diverse needs of English Language Learners, Special Education Students, and low income neighborhoods, and you’ll see why it would be opening a messy can of worms to define standards of success for American schools when the stakes are cash in the pockets of real teachers.

In Idaho, the nightmare has become a reality. According to Betsy Russell:

Idaho state schools Superintendent Tom Luna has announced that under the now-repealed “Students Come First” laws, teachers in 499 schools across the state will receive bonuses for their work last school year, while those in 155 schools will not. Data for 12 schools still is in the works. The bonuses are going out on the basis of student achievement by school, measured partly by test scores. In the Boise School District, for example, teachers at North Junior High will get $234,955 in bonuses, while teachers at South Junior High will get nothing. Teachers at Highlands Elementary School will split $78,000 in bonuses, while those at Garfield, Whitney and Hawthorne elementaries will get nothing. Every high school in the district qualified for bonuses for its teachers, except for Frank Church High School, the district's alternative school.

JamesGatz offered an interesting response:

Garfield Elementary School received nothing. Garfield Elementary, a Title 1 school serving poor students, immigrant students, students who speak English as a second language, homeless students, and in general a lot of students who just have tough row to hoe in their young lives received absolutely NOTHING under Luna’s so-called pay for performance scheme. Nothing. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Bupkis. Nada.

Garfield School received nothing In spite of being one of nine schools to be singled out to receive a Distinguished Schools Award for 2012. One of nine out of all Idaho schools.

Here’s the Boise School District press release about the achievement of Garfield School:

Boise, ID — 10/25/2012 — Boise School District’s Garfield Elementary School is one of only nine schools in the entire State of Idaho to earn the Distinguished Schools Award for 2012. During an awards ceremony held on Thursday, October 25, 2012, Mike Rush, Executive Director of the Idaho State Board of Education, presented Garfield Principal Debbie Donovan and District Superintendent Dr. Don Coberly with the award for 2012.

“We are honored to have received this award,” said Donovan. “It symbolizes the hard work of our staff, students and parents to create a positive and effective learning environment for students here at Garfield.”

The award is given by the State Board to schools in Idaho that meet the following criteria:

* Must make Adequate Yearly Progress (as defined by the federal No Child Left Behind Act) for two consecutive years;
* Based on grade level test:
Reduce gap between student groups or subgroups
Subgroups must have at least 34 or greater student populations
Top 5% of this group of schools that have reduced the gap(s) in their school

“We are grateful to receive this recognition from the State Board of Education,” said Dr. Coberly. “The academic success enjoyed by Garfield’s diverse student population did not happen overnight. It took dedication, commitment and focus to do what’s right for each student. The entire Garfield school community is to be congratulated for earning this much-deserved state award.”

The idea that if you’re paid more you’ll work harder may apply to selling encyclopedias. If you’re a lion-tamer, you’re not going to work any harder just because you’ll be paid more. The job of a teacher is more like a lion-tamer, I think.--Al Shanker, President AFT, AFL-CIO