Hearing On Homelessness Bills In Wisconsin, Wisconsin Astronaut, Appleton Monastery Turned Recording Studio, Study Finds Benefits To Teacher Merit Pay

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Musicians from across the country have been traveling to Appleton to record their new albums, with a particular studio in mind. The building is a former monastery on the Fox River, and artists say it gives them the peace they need to create their best work. A new study has found benefits to merit-based pay for school teachers. One of the researchers is with us to discuss the results. During Wisconsin Life, we hear about one of the state’s astronauts. Plus, a homelessness advocate shares his perspective on a series of bills trying to solve the problem of homelessness, which got a hearing Tuesday.

Featured in this Show

  • Advocate Shares Views On Homelessness Bills In Wisconsin

    On Tuesday the Assembly Committee on Public Benefit held a hearing that focused on a series of bills trying to solve the problem of homelessness in Wisconsin. We talk to an advocate for his take on these bills and what more he’d like to see the Wisconsin legislature do to address the issue of homelessness.

  • Report Shows Benefits To Teacher Merit Pay

    Teacher pay is one of the most hotly debated issues in education today. We look at a report that says paying teachers based on performance has a positive impact on students.

  • Analysis Shows Students Benefit From Merit Pay For Teachers

    Teacher pay is one of the many contentious issues in education.

    In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining reforms have changed the landscape when it comes to teachers and salaries.

    A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel special report shows that since Act 10, school districts are taking a more private-sector approach to paying teachers. That includes administrators linking teacher pay to skill and performance instead of seniority.

    Matthew Springer is one of the authors of a new analysis of existing research on teacher merit pay. The new report shows the practice has a positive effect on student outcomes.

    “Our main finding overall, and this is looking across the known 44 studies that we were able to locate, is really that merit pay had a significant impact on student test scores,” said Springer, a Vanderbilt University professor. He said looking at the studies conducted in the United States, the test score gain was equivalent to about three extra weeks of learning.

    For the purposes of this analysis, merit pay program is defined by “any program that rewards a teacher based upon their performance, and that would be based on compensation,” Springer said.

    He added researchers are seeing merit pay programs with a more holistic approach that could include student test score measures, multiple classroom observations, feedback from parents or students, as well as additional metrics at the school level, like a grade-level team or a departmental team.

    Springer addressed the concern about teachers “teaching to a test” in order to improve student test scores. He said a standardized test result occurs in one point in time throughout a 180-day academic year.

    “I really think it’s important that we use multiple measures in order to evaluate teacher performance and not just design systems that are solely based upon a test score,” he said.

    Springer said there were relatively few studies done about merit pay program design or implementation, although his team does have an idea of what makes the programs work best.

    “We do know that for these programs to be implemented effectively, we need broad-based stakeholder buy-in, we need teachers’ associations working together with the school district personnel, researchers evaluating the program to see what’s working and what’s not working and how to make it better” he said.

    “I think right now the way in which we compensate employees in the education system doesn’t have enough to do with the outcomes we’re trying to produce, and we really need to move to a system where our best and brightest educators receive a six-figure salary,” Springer said.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • Haleema Shah Producer
  • Joe Volk Guest
  • Matthew G. Springer Guest