USA Today has a blockbuster story, and you should read the whole thing. Michelle Rhee, the DC superintendent appointed by a Democratic mayor, and lauded by liberal pundits, tried out all kinds of conservative ideas like Merit Pay for higher student test scores. At one school, Noyes Education Campus, the merit pay was pretty high:
Twice in three years, she [Rhee] rewarded Noyes’ staff for boosting scores; in 2008 and again in 2010, each teacher won an $8,000 bonus, and the principal won $10,000.
But there was a reason Noyes’ test scores went up so dramatically…
A USA TODAY investigation, based on documents and data secured under D.C.’s Freedom of Information Act, found that for the past three school years most of Noyes’ classrooms had extraordinarily high numbers of erasures on standardized tests. The consistent pattern was that wrong answers were erased and changed to right ones.
The incentive to raise test scores motivated someone to falsify higher scores. For all the talk from Rhee and the big liberal pundits touting conservative “reforms” for education, in the end, those kids in DC’s public schools were treated like props in some big powerpoint presentation. Rhee got her positive headlines, and these kids & their families just got false, confusing information about just how much they really knew.
Merit pay is an incentive to cheat on tests, and it has no place in public schools.