Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Should BASD Tie Principal Pay to Performance?

Yesterday, I told you Bethlehem has just been ranked 14th of 17 local public school districts by Pittsburgh Business Times. It's #354 of 498 public schools statewide. Not an impressive stat for the Christmas City.

Bethlehem Area School Board member Judi Dexter wants to do something about it. She tells me she's considering linking administrative pay increases to performance. This kind of incentive pay will be implemented next year in Pittsburgh, currently ranked #470.

Principals in the Pittsburgh Public Schools will have their skills rated under a pay-for-performance plan to be introduced next school year.

In what Superintendent Mark Roosevelt called a major part of his turnaround agenda, the district is doing away with annual step increases that principals received without regard to performance. Instead, after 2007-08, each principal will be eligible for increases of up to $2,000 in base pay and bonuses of up to $10,000.

The plan, outlined at a school board Education Committee meeting last night, is designed to make principals more accountable for staff and student performance.

"Good schools have good principals," Mr. Roosevelt said. "Poor schools have weak leadership."


Mr. Damien Brown said...

This ranking is BS. It does nothing to take into account the economic segregation and unbalanced funding formula used by the state to fund our schools.

Did you know Pennsylvania does not even do a head count of students in each district before sending them their state contribution each year! . . . at least they haven't since 1992.

Either way, these stats can be all over the place based on how "success" is determined.

Personally, I like the simplified analysis Newsweek used in 2005 when it ranked Allen high School as one of the top 1,000 in the US, the only one in the valley to make the list.

Newsweek simply looked at the percentage of graduating students who successfully participated in Advanced Placement courses during high school. This method is a good way to take a look at the quality of an education received instead of just how many kids are making it through.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Damien, Point taken. But what do you think of the idea of linking administrative salaries to school performance? Good? Bad?

Mr. Damien Brown said...


Indirectly, my point was . . . How do you define performance?

Sure it is a great idea if there is an accurate and fair system of measurement. If the standard way of thinking prevails that graduation and college acceptance rates define success than the concept would simply encourage good teachers to leave the areas where there expertise is most needed.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I can help. If no one gets arrested, no rapes happen, no cover ups are found,etc., administration gets a raise is entitled to the a pay raise according to the contract scale. If the above said instances happen, supers get canned.

Anonymous said...

So what school district is #498?
Don't tell

Anonymous said...

Damien makes some sense, but we need to look at more than AP courses. How many graduate and do they go to college? The idea of linking raises to that is good, but could lead to segregation.

Bernie O'Hare said...

#498 is Harrisburg. If you click on the link in the main body of the post, they're all listed.

Mr. Damien Brown said...

In my opinion, graduation rates are largely determined by factors outside of school.

If a kid's family is poor it is more likely he will drop out to help out at home or to begin taking care of himself. Granted, I can see how class sizes can cause drop-out rates to inflate but that is out of the teachers control.

Let's not kid ourselves about college either. I will laugh at anyone who tries to tell me economics is not the largest factor in determining if a kid goes to college and/or where he or she goes to college. Sure there are opportunities for a select few to maneuver their way up the ladder within the existing post high school education system but it still is what it is.

Teachers should not be punished for this simple fact of life. If anything, these stats (drop out rates/college attendance) should be largely ignored when determining the success rates of area high schools.

The more I think about it, this whole debate is a waste of time and a joke until we get serious about adequate (or at least equitable) public school funding in Pennsylvania.

No reasonable sytem of measuring teacher performance can exist with our current system or economic segregation and regressive funding in our public schools, PERIOD.

Anonymous said...


The "methods" they would use would be similiar to the PSSA. Kids in urban school districts from poor families (some of whom may not have spoken English for more than a few years) will get lower scores than the kids in the suburbs. Urban administrators will have lower pay and that'll act as a black mark against them in seeking future employment. Soon, any smart person looking to have a future in school administration will avoid urban schools like the plague. Urban school districts will get second-rate administrators, at best.

At least, that's my two cents.

Bernie O'Hare said...

To all:

I'm a product of catholic schools, which probably explains why I'm a basket case. My kids also went thru the sisters system. And I'm a renter. So my comments on public schools are pretty much without value.

But I want to take this opportunity to thank those of you who contributed to this discussion. Judi Dexter is considering making a proposal like what is happening in P-burg, and really does want to know what others think.

Thanks again to all of you!