I too struggle with teacher bonuses. I totally agree with Ladner's post on Jay Greene's Blog (full disclosure that he sits on my board but that is not why I agree with him)– teachers need to be rewarded for the success of the school and for their individual contribution to that school. I saw this first hand in one of my jobs in manufacturing. We had an annual bonus that was based on the how well the organization did and how well my department did. It meant that everyone was focused on the overall performance of the plant and their individual performance. And if anyone was a slacker, the peer pressure for that person “stuff” together and not hurt our bonus was pretty intense.
There are other issues with teacher bonuses that we are still trying to work out as well. Because of a few meetings with Rob Weil from AFT I also never had a good answer for him on how we handle the problem of waiting for test score results since bonuses are most likely to have a positive impact the closer they are to the behavior being rewarded. There is also the timing of student testing and the quality of student testing. The ideal solution would be a true pre and post test with the rewards coming soon after the post test. But with school budgets today, will anyone really stomach another test for students and absorb that cost?
More studies are needed to determine how to implement performance plans and truly reward the efforts in our schools. It is great to see some on the ed reform side pointing out some of the issues and looking for solutions. We are completing the write up on our initial study for our Distinguished Teacher program and are still looking for dollars to pilot this program as a possible answer.