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Merit Pay

Page history last edited by Ron Regan 3 years, 6 months ago

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Merit pay was first introduced in 1908 in Newton, Massachusetts and substantially gained popularity in  1983 after the publication of A Nation at Risk, which recommended teachers' salaries be “professionally competitive, market-sensitive, and performance-based” (Protsik, 1995; A Nation At Risk: Recommendations, 1983) Webmail. One goal of this recommendation was to tie compensation more directly to classroom skill. Merit pay has been used as an attempt to rectify the failings of the single-salary pay schedule, including the frustration that all teachers with the same educational level and experience are paid equally, despite potentially unequal performance and skills.

 

For this  paper, we will be using the working definition of merit pay established by Murnane and Cohen (1985) who define merit pay as "a compensation scheme that bases individual teachers' compensation on their performance in teaching their students, as measured by either student test score gains or by supervisors’ evaluations of teacher actions in the classroom" (p. 2).  This paper discusses four separate aspects of merit pay: history of the issue, merit pay programs (policy research), contemporary politics, and concludes with a final policy recommendation advocating for the integration of merit pay as part of larger compensation reform.  To fully understand the complicated nuances of this issue and its contentious nature, an introduction to the context of the merit pay debate is necessary.  The two sides to this topic can be summarized into the following main points.

 

Supporters of merit pay believe:

  • Pay incentives will motivate teachers to work harder and produce better results.

  • Our American capitalistic system thrives from valuing and rewarding effort and results, and therefore the same should work in schools.

  • Merit pay will provide the incentive to attract young, college graduates.

  • We should be open to trying anything that has the potential to make our schools better.

 

Opponents of merit pay plans argue:

  • Collaboration between teachers would be  compromised.

  • There are no reliable ways to measure teacher and student success.

  • Basing merit pay systems on high-stakes testing would lead to dishonesty.

  • There are better ways to improve teacher quality and raise student achievement (K.C. Boles, personal communication, 2009, November 5).

 

In the 1980s and   1990s, many merit pay plans were tried across the country.  Some included bonuses for excellent performance based on peer and supervisor review, while others were “career-ladder” programs and usually evaluated teachers based on individual student achievement.  Teachers were not ultimately convinced however, that merit pay plans treated them as fairly as under the single-salary pay schedule.  Furthermore, it was found that teachers in large numbers preferred the more equitable and non-controversial form of differentiated pay that provided “extra pay for extra work.”  Finally, plans that tried to incentivize teaching through money did little to positively affect both student and teacher performance.

 

Despite these criticisms, we are now in an age of accountability Webmail, which seeks to link teacher performance to student outcomes.  Therefore, a number of districts are currently experimenting with merit pay programs to reward successful teachers.  These programs offer different incentives based on different standards and serve as examples of the variety of ways merit pay can be implemented.  Using a merit pay framework presented by Johnson and Papay (2009), we review programs in Florida, Texas, and North Carolina.

 

For merit pay to work, a number of stakeholders' opinions must be considered.  Necessary to this process is union support and greater teacher collaboration in the merit pay programs' development.  Given the historical dissatisfaction with compensation reform, merit pay should be part of a comprehensive compensation plan to best encourage, reward, and retain successful teachers.  Furthermore, with Secretary of Education Arne   Duncan's Race to the Top agenda, government backing for pay experiments suggests the time is right for restructuring the single-salary pay schedule for teachers and adapting new models to address traditional compensation concerns. 

 

For more in-depth look into our investigation of merit pay, please see our full report or view any of the sections below:

 

                                        

 

 

 

                                                   

 

 


 

Originally compiled by Elizabeth Epstein Ed.M. '10, Michelle Herbon Ed.M. '10, Jennifer Koelling Ed.M. '10, & Jennifer Roberts Ed.M. '10, all students in the Education Policy and Management program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

 

 

 

Just about every broker or agent has their own style. Some are extroverts, some are more laidback. Some are fun and flamboyant, some are cool, calm, and collected.

 

In the course of my career, I’ve been lucky to meet or interview hundreds of Realtors and I have a huge respect for them. Many of the agents I have connected with have large offices and do huge amounts of business.

 

So what makes a successful agent?

 

The first thing is always passion. It’s a hard business and it takes a lot of attention to detail and a commitment to great customer service. In talking with agents I’ve noticed that the truly great agents also share the attributes below:

 

They return calls and emails at lightning speed – These are the people that get a lead and don’t let it go. They immediately make contact and they follow up.  They answer any questions and are happy to stay on the phone with nervous clients. They are the warriors of email, text, and phone and they keep that rhythm right up through the whole transaction, busy Washington DC agent Jeff Vinson told me he calls it his land, sea, and air approach, reaching out to clients through as many channels as possible in the beginning even using Skype.  Their clients feel like they are very important to the agent. They also switch their communication style to match the client. If the client prefers text, they text, if the client wants a phone call, they call. They mirror the client’s communication style so the client feels more comfortable.

 

They are up on the latest technology – They are iPad toters and smartphone addicts. They do everything from anywhere. They don’t just have a tablet and a smartphone; they make sure they have great data plans so they are never stuck without an internet connection. They try to go paperless as much as possible. They read a lot of information both about the real estate industry but also about general trends regarding technology.

 

They know their neighborhoods intimately – The phrase “neighborhood expert” gets bandied about quite a bit but when it comes to top agents, they are walking, talking encyclopedias of neighborhood lore. Ask a question about a street and they know what’s on the market, what sold recently, and the overall status of the neighborhood. Tell the agent what you like in a neighborhood and suggestions on places to look will come tumbling out. Looking to sell? The agent knows what is on the market, what just sold, and what you can get for your money. Top Santa Cruz agent Sally Lyng told me that she teaches map classes for her agents to help them get familiar with the area. These days anyone can look at houses online but the top agents know what lurks below the surface and they keep their value that way.

 

They explain everything they are doing – Like straight A students doing math homework, successful agents show their work. When they meet with the client for the first time they explain the process, the potential roadblocks, and a few scenarios that could occur. They let the client know that they are negotiating, they keep in regular communication, and they adjust their strategy as needed. When I attended the Hear It Direct conference in Orange County last fall, one of the things that sellers told the audience made them most satisfied with their agents was regular communication on what was happening with the efforts to sell the home.

 

They get leads any way they can – Nobody really likes to talk about leads but leads are how many agents get clients. A lead is an introduction to someone the Realtor hasn’t met yet. Smart agents are experimenters, they try out different types of lead sources, they explore different types of ad campaigns, and they take notes on what works and what doesn’t. They understand that having a social presence is important and that staying top of mind means being active with their clients through social media, through advertising, and even through more traditional methods such as postcard mailings. Postcards and bus stop bench ads are still around because they still work in some cases.

 

They have a great network– These agents don’t just have a network to bring them clients they have a network of top-notch partners who provide the same level of service they do. They know the best contractors, appraisers, lenders, and insurance providers in the business. They are what Malcolm Gladwell designated in the Tipping Point as a connector. The agent is the hub of a group of professionals that can advise and assist with anything real estate or home related. Top agents care for their network and are happy to refer clients that they know will get top care. They are ruthless about cutting out anyone who doesn’t provide great customer service to their clients.

 

Overall, great customer service is about two things, knowledge and authenticity. The agents that succeed are able to treat each client’s purchase as vitally important. They are able to steer the client through any hiccups in the process and leave the client feeling that the whole process was as easy as possible.

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