Home' Teacher : March 2011 Contents 10 TEACHER MARCH 2011
year.' The idea is that the top 10 per cent of
teachers in 2014 will receive a one-off 10
per cent salary bonus for their performance
in 2013. On the PM's figures, that means
AITSL will have its work cut out assessing
about 250,000 teachers.
On the bright side, teacher evaluations
will use more than just student test scores.
According to the policy release, 'Assessment
of a teacher's performance will be based on
a range of methods including:
analysis of student performance
data, including NAPLAN (National
Assessment Program -- Literacy and
Numeracy) and school-based informa-
tion that can show the valued added by
parental feedback, and
teacher qualifications and professional
For those inclined to look through a
glass darkly, though, the policy is riddled
with problems: it offers incentives only to
classroom teachers, not those in non-school
settings or specialists in schools who don't
work in classrooms; it privileges individual
over collegial effort, potentially reward-
ing one teacher for the value-add of others;
depending on the way value-added is meas-
ured; it may favour teachers in low-perform-
ing schools or indeed the reverse; excellent
teachers who happen to be in schools with
rich information on value-add are more
likely to get a bonus than excellent teach-
ers in schools with poor information; and
high-performing teachers who retire at the
end of in 2013 will probably be well miffed.
It's unclear right now as to whether the
Commonwealth government has shelved the
idea, but given significant funding cuts to
existing programs across a range of portfo -
lios to support flood recovery, there's a fair
chance that it's on the back burner.
Policies to do with performance bonuses
have been on a slow burn for some time in
Australia, and it would be unreasonable
to suggest that Gillard's policy announce-
ment borrows directly from Duncan's, or
Gates's, agenda. School autonomy, though,
is another matter. Alongside her perfor-
mance bonus policy, PM Gillard also took
a policy to the 2010 federal election to
give principals and parents a bigger say in
how schools are run. It's no surprise that
Commonwealth opposition education
spokesman Christopher Pyne last December
welcomed the policy; after all, it's actually
a coalition policy.
A report by AAP described the Com-
monwealth government's policy, appar-
ently proposed in a briefing paper to the
Ministerial Council for Education, Early
Childhood Development and Youth Affairs
in December, as a move towards US-style
According to the policy release by
Gillard and then Com monwealth Minister
for Education Simon Crean, 'Participating
schools will have greater responsibility over
school budgets, selecting and employing
teachers and staff, and identifying funding
'This will drive improvements in students'
achievements and enable schools to better
meet the needs of students,' they claim.
'A key element of this reform is empower-
ing local school communities to make deci-
sions about what is best for their schools
and their students rather than a centralised
system run by state bureaucracies dictating
staffing mix and resource allocations.' The
significant difference between this and US
public charter schools that operate inde-
pendently of their school district is that the
word charter is missing.
The Commonwealth government aims
to spend $47.3 million over four years for
start-up funding to provide schools with
$40,000 to $50,000 to assist in the transi-
tion to 'a more independent' model, with the
expectation that 1,000 schools will become
autonomous between 2012 and 2013.
The problem, according to education
researchers David Plank from Stanford
University's School of Education and
BetsAnn Smith from Michigan State Uni-
versity, is that there's no research to show
that increased autonomy actually does drive
improvements in students' achievements.
'Two decades of experience and research
provide compelling evidence that simply set-
ting schools free and holding them account-
able for results is not in itself sufficient to
conjure the attributes of effectiveness into
being,' Plank and Smith observe. 'Detaching
schools from the bureaucratic structures
within which they are embedded may enable
the most privileged or resourceful schools to
strike out in new and positive directions, but
the rewards of enhanced autonomy for less
advantaged schools are uncertain at best.'
Wishing it were so does not make autono-
mous schools better.
That doesn't mean policies to promote
autonomy, or choice or testing, will shrivel
and die, though -- at least not while US phil-
anthropics maintain their disproportionate
influence in politics.
Barkan, J. (2011). Got dough? How
billion aires rule our schools. (Winter.)
Disse nt. Available at http://dissentmaga-
Centre for Research on Education
Outcomes. (2009). Multiple Choice:
Charter school performance in 16 states.
Stanford, CA: Centre for Research on
Educ ation Outcomes, Stanford University.
Bishop, M. & Green, M. (2009).
Billion aires find reform s require more
than money. (11 November.) New York
He rbert, D. (2009). Shooting for the
moon: A joint ve nture. (29 October.) The
Plank D.N. & Smith, B. (2008).
Autonomous schools: Theory, evidence
and policy. In Helen F. Ladd & Edward
B. Fiske (Eds). Handbook of Research in
Education Finance and Policy, pp.402-24.
Ne w York: Routledge.
Quaid, L . & Blankin ship, D. (2009). The
influence game: Bill Gates pushes educa-
tion reform . (29 October.) USA Today.
US Departme nt of Education. (2010).
Race to the Top Program Guidance and
Freque ntly Asked Question s. Washington,
DC: US Department of Education.
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