State Study: In Teaching, Experience Doesn’t Matter

The State Board of Education was told Friday that veteran teachers with multiple degrees do no better at helping Tennessee children learn than those with less experience and education, reports The Tennessean.
Armed with new research showing that teacher effectiveness is related to neither experience nor advanced degrees, the board asked for a plan that would instead tie teacher salaries to student test scores.
“I think we’ve got to ask the department to take a look at this data and come back to us with a better alignment of pay and performance — a pay system that is based more on performance than some of these other factors,” said board Chairman B. Fielding Rolston.
Facing aggressive goals for raising student test scores, the state has been toying for several years with the idea of linking pay to teacher performance. The concept has met fierce resistance from teachers’ unions. Last year, Gov. Bill Haslam supported an unsuccessful bill to pay bonuses to teachers based on merit or for teaching larger classes.
Traditional pay plans reward teachers for earning advanced degrees and for years of experience, but at least 20 of the state’s 136 school districts have been allowed to experiment with their own pay scales.
Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman stopped short of saying he does not think teachers should be paid more for additional degrees or experience. But Huffman said he does not believe the state should mandate extra pay for factors that do not drive student performance.
The research, conducted by a new internal research team within the Tennessee Department of Education, was based on teacher evaluations for the 2011-12 school year. It used improvement in student test scores as a measure of teacher effectiveness.
On average, teachers with less than five years in the classroom were just as likely to be effective as those with more than 20 years of experience, the researchers’ presentation showed. And teachers with only a bachelor’s degree helped students increase their test scores just as well as teachers holding masters or doctoral degrees.
“The fact that the evidence doesn’t show teachers getting better over time is an indictment of professional development,” Huffman said.
Only 35 percent of the state’s teachers were included in the study because the others do not teach subjects measured by standardized tests.
That’s one of the weaknesses of a pay-for-performance plan, said Gera Summerford, president of the state’s teacher union and largest professional organization.
“Pay for test scores is extremely risky,” she said.

One thought on “State Study: In Teaching, Experience Doesn’t Matter

  1. Eric H

    “Pay for test scores is extremely risky,” she said.”
    What does the TEA call automatic extra pay for degrees that show no correlation to the students’ academic performance? LMU will be sweating bullets over those specialist degrees.
    Brian Ray at NHERI has already done similar research in the homeschooling arena. All the typical demographics the public system uses to pigeonhole students and teachers have no significant effect on the student’s academic ability: household income, money spent on curriculum, teacher with GED vs. HS diploma vs. BA/BS vs. advanced degrees, race, gender, teacher “certification”, etc.
    Yet, Ms. Summerford’s union maintains in their resolutions that these same parents cannot provide the same academic performance that they can. So before they start blaming the parents of their students (again), remember what they say about parents:
    NEA 2013 Resolution B82: “The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience.”

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