It is interesting to note that the proposal to link a percentage of teachers’ salary increases to pupil performance has been dropped from the National Development Plan.
It has been replaced with a proposal to give financial incentives to schools that show a significant improvement on their annual results.
The original idea did not find favour with the department of education, which considered it difficult to implement. It was pointed out that ultimately student performance depended on a range of socio-economic conditions, and not solely teacher skills.
At the time, I also voiced my opposition, as I believe it is likely to lead to a number of unintended consequences. Although the new scheme is preferable, I am still concerned that the incentives may be based simply be based on easily measurable results (e.g. the Annual National Assessments and Matric), without also considering such indicators as the through-put rate. Without this, schools could be driven to ‘teach to the test’ without developing the pupils’ thinking skills and to fail learners so as to produce good results. Education departments will need to monitor the full picture to avoid this.