Friday, October 26

Bonuses for top-performing DOE officials?

Wow. The Sun today reports that top DOE officials and aides will be eligible for bonuses based on the test scores of the students their responsibilities affect. According to the article, Chancellor Klein has asked about 100 top administrators to draft their own performance goals, which he and others will monitor. If they meet those goals, improve student test scores, and get good reviews from principals, the administrators could get performance bonuses as early as June.

I can't even begin to figure out what I think about this new development. The incentives are coming fast and furious out of the Chancellor's Office and at this point we have no way of telling how they will affect schools and students. But no one can say that the mayor and the chancellor aren't doing a darn good job of replicating the features of the business world that they have long said they admire.

At NYC Public School Parents, Leonie Haimson is incredulous about the new plan. She writes:

So let me get this straight: if test scores improve enough in our schools, even if this leads to a ridiculous amount of test prep and/or cheating, and if graduation rates improve, even if this causes increasing numbers of students to be suspended, transferred or discharged from our schools, then the already overpaid officials at Tweed will get even more of our taxpayer money for being able to further degrade the conditions for authentic learning at our schools.
I'm not quite so cynical, but it's valuable to remember that with higher stakes comes increased potential for corruption. For that reason, the DOE needs independent oversight of all of its data -- before they're used to make decisions, not audited after the fact. If we could trust the DOE when it says things are on the right track, I would feel a lot better about its leaders getting performance bonuses.

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