Analytics are used in education by every level of government from federal agencies down to the local school system. Analytics analyze results. They are being used to study teacher and student performance. Standardized tests are being used as a guide and measurement tool. From the results, we have been able to identify the highest performing schools and at the other end the worse ones.
The model that has sprung up is to reward school districts with the highest test scores. Taken further a new proposal is gaining traction. It is the idea that we should reward the teachers whose students have performed at the high end of the scores with higher pay and fire those whose students score lowest.
While the model may have some merit, it does not take into account other contributing factors such as ethnic breakdown of students, their socio-economic backgrounds, the levels of poverty in a district, the tax structure in a given community and the amount of state aid that varies state to state.
With mounting economic pressure from states and local communities to cut expenses, a battery of teachers have been fired. Class size has increased. Teachers are being required to do more paper work and reports. Teachers are “under the gun” to show high performance on standardized tests. This means there is less time to let students explore topics they may be interested in but do not fit into the standard curriculum.
The curriculum has become highly structured with hundreds of separate segments. Less time is allotted for “concept” learning.
The underlying weakness in the present model is that while it may reward high performing teachers with higher pay, it is too localized. For example, there may be a teacher in Maine and another in Iowa who are outstanding. However, there skills and knowledge remain in their local districts. They are not shared outside their communities.
This proposal takes analytics a step beyond the present model. Instead of paying teachers locally for high performance why not set up a national data base of outstanding lesson plans from these gifted teachers. Use the money to pay them for their lesson plans instead of paying them for their performance. The lesson plans would be accessible to all teachers across the country. In this way, everyone could benefit. The skills and knowledge then go nationwide instead of being bottled up in a local community.
Such a model would help to alleviate the criticism from much of the teaching profession, arguing that it is too difficult to determine teacher performance without considering all of the contributing factors mention above.
The other benefit of the proposal is that teachers must contribute and share their knowledge before getting paid.
This model is already in use extensively in the area of finance. We have nationwide data bases that provide information on just about every different type of investment. Most of these data bases are provided free by leading brokerage houses. The medical profession is rapidly moving in the same direction. The legal profession and law enforcement also have extensive data bases.