Certification Not Worth Bonus Pay

Published April 19, 2005

As an April 14 Tribune editorial pointed out (“Top teachers for tough jobs”), when K-12 public school teachers attain certification through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, they are rewarded with annual bonuses.

The Tribune fails to mention, however, that four research studies conducted since 2002–including three sponsored by NBPTS itself–have shown NBPTS-certified teachers produce only small gains in student achievement.

That suggests bonuses for certification are being misdirected to average teachers, instead of going to teachers who produce substantial gains in student achievement.

Far more effective would be to reward teachers not merely for certification, but for their proven ability to improve student achievement. Value-added assessments, such as those pioneered by J.E. Stone at East Tennessee State University, are the appropriate way to measure a teacher’s contributions to student learning.

If the point of rewarding teachers is to encourage improvements in student performance–and isn’t that what good teachers care about?–then bonuses and other school policies should focus on student performance.

George A. Clowes
Mount Prospect, IL

George A. Clowes ([email protected]) is associate editor of School Reform News.