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This is not time-series data. The study design here (a cross-sectional survey of varying countries, showing a bare correlation between two variables) is not adequate to show causation.

http://norvig.com/experiment-design.html

(By the way, the scatter of data points around the regression line in their plot suggests that the model is subject to large degrees of error in prediction.) It would take an experimental design (randomly assigning one group of teachers in the same country to receive pay raises while another group does not, with before-and-after comparisons of pupil performance) to show that paying teachers more results in higher pupil performance.

http://escholarship.org/uc/item/6hb3k0nz

There have been hundreds of studies of educational interventions over the years,

http://www.amazon.com/Visible-Learning-Synthesis-Meta-Analys...

and many thoughtful international comparisons of teaching practice,

http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Gap-Improving-Education-Class...

http://www.amazon.com/Knowing-Teaching-Elementary-Mathematic...

http://www.amazon.com/Making-Learning-Whole-Principles-Trans...

but none of those conclude that simply raising teacher pay, without changing teaching practices and perhaps also the composition of the teaching workforce, will have much to do with raising pupil performance in any place. Raising teacher pay systematically has been tried in the United States (notably in the state of Connecticut) and has not been shown to markedly raise pupil performance.

An economist who closely studies education policy has suggested that pay and other incentives be used to encourage the least effective teachers to seek other occupations while rewarding the most effective teachers with increased compensation and more professional support.

http://edpro.stanford.edu/hanushek/admin/pages/files/uploads...

Such a policy, he estimates (showing his work in his article) would raise United States educational achievement to the level of the highest-performing countries. This is something worth verifying by experiment, although that will be politically difficult in any state of the United States

http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj30n1/cj30n1-8.pdf

and perhaps in Britain as well.

http://www.economist.com/node/17849199

P.S. I'm curious about why the United States underperforms so much compared to salaries paid to teachers in the chart shown in the submitted blog post.




Yeah, my immediate reaction was that it looked like a practically uncorrelated scatter plot with most of the correlation signal coming from a few outliers on the high/low pay ends. At $35k, the outcomes scatter from 100% to 35%, which would be the same magnitude as raising pay from $15k to $55k according to their fit.

There are so many systemic differences between those countries that could correlate with pay that interpreting it is pointless without controls. Not to mention that there's a difference between test performance and learning, there could be "optimization by proxy" effects in play.


Everyone in the US has the opportunity (or close to everyone) to attend a near-standard public school in the US. Not all countries subscribe to this model, I believe. Although the US average is low, I strongly suspect that the top 10% of US students perform at or above the levels of all other countries.

As for paying more, this increases competition as stated, but you'd need all other factors to remain equal. The class size in US public schools is now ridiculous, 30+ kids per teacher at the local elementary here. Education funding should basically be doubled imho, and the number of teachers per student dropped to 17 or 18 maximum.


Agree. Triple it, 10 students per teacher, and see performance shoot up.


Monetary reward could destroy intrinsic motivation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc


I'm not sure about that. Doctors get paid a lot, but if you talk to them very few cite money as the reason they continue to practice medicine. I think increasing the compensation granted teachers could pull in talented folks who would make good teachers but also have other things that they like to do and are good at.


From tokenadult' comment:

Raising teacher pay systematically has been tried in the United States (notably in the state of Connecticut) and has not been shown to markedly raise pupil performance. </quote>

See the video from my comment above to understand why the following obvious suggestion might not work in practice:

An economist who closely studies education policy has suggested that pay and other incentives be used to encourage the least effective teachers to seek other occupations while rewarding the most effective teachers with increased compensation and more professional support. </quote>


I know in my highschool all our science teachers had previous 'job' training. The chemistry teacher worked down in mines in (IIRC) Australia. The physics teacher had worked at a lab doing radiological work. The biology teacher actually went from field work, to university professor to highschool vice principal.


That sort of thing is strongly discouraged in the US by teacher pay structures.


My mum is a doctor and a teacher. As in, part time practicing MD (mostly women's health). She gets a decent salary teaching in the private sector, but only really does it because she likes teaching and hates working with sick people. In the public sector, they offered her a very low salary, and told her to get her paperwork together to prove she was senior enough (after over a decade of teaching, but she hadn't kept every pay stubb).


> P.S. I'm curious about why the United States underperforms so much compared to salaries paid to teachers in the chart shown in the submitted blog post.

Because in the US if you flunk out of high school you can still get a job at a gas station and supplement it with welfare and food programs.

In other countries if you flunk out of school you starve to death.


Yep, no welfare state in Finland or the Netherlands. I hear over there if you break a leg they just shoot you.




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