|By Monica Caldwell|
Recently, a couple of studies have come out that really got me thinking. The first study was by the awesome Roland Fryer. He says that the key to making merit pay work is loss aversion. Now math is hard, but the way I understand it instead of giving teachers money if they show improvement on tests, you give them the money up front and then if their students' test scores don't improve they either cough up the dough, or your Uncle Rocco pays them a little visit. If they're like me, they'd probably spend it all on shoes.
Another really cool report I read was called The Irreplaceables. Now, this isn't to be confused with The Expendables which is a movie about a lot of old guys blowing stuff up, but an article by The New Teacher Project says that urban schools are not making their best teachers feel valued and instead retaining the bad ones. I can relate to this. The fire in my classroom wasn't what got me terminated as much as all the other teachers who were jealous of my rapport with my class going to the principal.
What we need is a way to make teachers feel rewarded, retain the best teachers, and use loss aversion to scare teachers into working really hard. Now, if you believe like I do, the best teachers come from programs like Teach for America, this is really easy. When teachers go through the Teach for America program, put like a dozen of them up in a mansion that they could never afford on a teacher's salary. Then as the school year goes on, have teachers vote each other out of the mansion, but if your kids improve on standardized tests, you have immunity.
The best part is we film this as a reality television show. Now one problem is Teach for America's training is only 5 weeks and a reality tv show season is much longer, but that's fixed by following the recruits through the beginning of their teaching careers. The teachers will try really hard because the mansion will have like a hot tub and cute guys and a kitchen that's totally stocked with everything you could want. The good teachers will be retained and a few teachers may even get famous like Snooki. Hey Bravo! Call me, we'll do lunch.