Do (Did) Higher Salaries Produce Higher or Lower Student Test Scores?

Are higher salaries and larger benefits producing higher or lower student test scores?

Let’s look at Huntley, where scores were made public in last Thursday’s school board packet.

In Huntley School District 158, you will remember there was a teacher’s strike a year ago. This year Supt. John Burkey got a $12,000 raise and a trip to China to study education. (He refuses to reveal whether he was on vacation days or work days.)

Did about five percent raises for the teachers last year and this year improve learning in the classroom?

You can find a summary of the test score results in Mary Olson’s memo of September 23, 2009 to Supt. Burkey and Terry Awrey.

If you look at the test score results in her memo, an interesting thing pops out:

there is a decline in at least one subject tested in every grade tested.

The memo begins on electronic page 66 of 390 at this board packet link;

It clearly shows

  • 3rd grade – reading and math, both post declines
  • 4th grade – reading, math and science, all three post declines
  • 5th grade – writing decline
  • 6th grade – math decline
  • 7th grade – reading decline
  • 8th grade – writing decline
  • 11th grade – math, science and writing, all three post declines

(The other grades went untested.)

That’s not to say that there were not improvements shown within the data,

But, you might think that teachers getting about five percent raises would lead to all higher and not some lower indications of student learning or test score performance.

When declines are in every grade, it’s hard to call this cherry picking.

How many readers or educators in McHenry County would expect to get rewarded with a $12,000 raise for test score declines for every grade tested? If you know of any examples, let me know.

Olson did not stick around to answer parents’ questions.

She left last Thursday’s board meeting before the public part of the meeting agenda was concluded. Superintendent Burkey was conspicuously absent from the entire meeting. Busy elsewhere, one would imagine.

Linda Bertold, a District 158 mother, publicly commented on the test scores. She may have explained the big difference between the ISAT scores Illinois uses in the lower grades and the PSAE scores used in the 11th grade.

Mrs. Bertold quoted Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education and former Chicago Public Schools Superintendent:

“In some states, including my state of Illinois, we’re actually lying to children.

“When you tell the parent that their child is meeting the ‘state standard,’
the logical assumption is that they’re on track to be successful.

“I would argue that, in many places, the standard has been dummied down so much that those children who are just meeting the standard are barely able to graduate from high school and absolutely inadequately prepared to go on to a competitive four year university, much less graduate.”

The quote was from an interview with Phi Delta Kappan magazine September 2009 Vol. 91, No.01, pp. 24-29.


Do (Did) Higher Salaries Produce Higher or Lower Student Test Scores? — 1 Comment

  1. How about the teachers “benchmark” with each other. Get the “good” teachers that deserve the increase together so that they can have their techniques move across all others.

    I have four kids at school and I can’t help but notice a difference in how and what they are being taught.

    Some of them are just taught from a worksheet while others actually get a teacher that uses their talent and teach beyond those worksheets!

    How about they figure out what kind of learning style their students have and work with that. They are not cookie cutter kids. I had a teacher that old me my 9 year old was a visual learner at the conference in November!

    Also, with all the special ed money coming their way, why not use some of that on extra math help besides reading. Thank you

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