Doctor quality, meet teacher quality

The New York Times ran an article on doctor “pay for performance”:

Health care experts applauded these early [“pay for performance”] initiatives and the new focus on patient outcomes. But over time, many of the same experts began tempering their earlier enthusiasm. In opinion pieces published in medical journals, they have voiced concerns about pay-for-performance ranging from the onerous administrative burden of collecting such large amounts of patient data to the potential worsening of clinician morale and widening disparities in health care access.

But there has been no research to date that has directly studied the one concern driving all of these criticisms — that the premise of the evaluation criteria is flawed. Patient outcomes may not be as inextricably linked to doctors as many pay-for-performance programs presume.

Now a study published this month in The Journal of the American Medical Association has confirmed these experts’ suspicions. Researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School have found that whom doctors care for can have as much of an influence on pay-for-performance rankings as what those doctors do.

Replace every instance of “doctor” with “teacher” and “patient” with “student”, and you have a cogent explanation of why teacher merit pay based on students’ standardized test scores is a terrible idea.

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About Spherical Cow
I'm a trained cognitive scientist and education researcher currently working for an education non-profit. In my job, I translate findings from education research into classroom practice and observe and evaluate the results. I also help non-scientists understand what we can and cannot conclude from different data sets. I hope that increased awareness of quality research will improve the discourse and policymaking in education.

One Response to Doctor quality, meet teacher quality

  1. Pingback: Statistical issues with applying VAM « Real Learning Matters

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