Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

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November 10, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Highlights Of A Reddit Chat With Angela Duckworth & Roland Fryer


Reddit hosted a chat this week with MacArthur genius awardees Angela Duckworth & Roland Fryer.

As regular readers of this blog know, I’m no fan of Fryer’s work, and nothing he said in the chat made me elevate that opinion.

Angela Duckworth, though, is a different story, and I’ve been very impressed with her research on grit (see The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of “Grit”). And I think she share some important and useful info on Reddit.

I think the most important piece of research she shared, though she made it clear that it’s not solid and it’s an “informal” finding, was this:

I do think there are things we can do to improve grit and self-control. Most of my ideas (things I think) haven’t been tested, but in this informal setting, I will say that I think (but don’t know yet for sure) that just being around a lot of people of exemplify these qualities should help.

Even though, to a certain extent, this is common sense, this particular comment is going to be very helpful to me. Coincidentally, I’m doing my lesson on grit right now in class, and being able to share this quote (students have been reading about her research and watching her videos) can, I think, apply a little peer pressure — “if I show grit, then I’m helping my classmates and, if don’t show it, I’m hurting them.”

Here are some other things she shared that she believes could help people develop grit:

Another idea with some empirical evidence behind it is that certain beliefs should help with both self-control. Believing that self-control is a limited resource and should therefore be conserved tends not to encourage people to use self-control. Believing that self-control doesn’t run out after use has the opposite (and in this case, a positive, adaptive) effect. Our lab thinks that believing that effort and practice play a huge, not minor, role in success encourages grit. Also, believing that failure is part of learning and part of life should encourage grit. We are working on strategies and beliefs now…

I’m not convinced about her perspective on self-control — believing that it’s a limited resource doesn’t mean it has to be conserved. It means that you have to be strategic to make sure it gets replenished (see The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control). I don’t believe most research supports Prof. Duckworth’s position on self-control (which she shares with another person whom I admire, Carol Dweck) and have written about it specifically at Our Students Are Not Supermen & Superwomen.

I was struck by her response to a question that, though not specifically, seemed to be touching on the 10,000 hour rule:

My view is that achievement = talent x effort. In particular, I think some people learn/improve faster than others, and we can call that talent. And some people work longer and harder than others, and we can call that effort. The real superstars, the outliers, are almost without exception high in talent and effort.

She also referred to a good “This I Believe” piece by Martha Graham.

Finally, there was this interchange:

Angela, You’re at UPenn, in Philadelphia, where it seems like schools are closing left and right and the whole system is in extreme turmoil. How can low-income kids be expected to show continued grit and fortitude in those kinds of settings, in the face of closings, mergers and such instability?

(Angela Duckworth) You bring up an important point. The situations in which people find themselves has a huge effect on outcomes. And, I don’t want attention to grit and other aspects of character to imply that we don’t need to work on improving the situations of kids – their neighborhoods, schools, opportunities, etc. But, it’s also true, that for kids in the schools (and by the way, my two kids are in the Philadelphia schools as of this year, since we moved from the ‘burbs), they have little choice other than to ask “How can I, without changing the whole system” do as well as I can? What can I do?” In other words, kids are not to blame for their situations, and situations are important, but kids also need to develop a sense of responsibility and agency about their lives. The road may be bumpy, and that’s not necessarily their fault, but they need to think of themselves as in the driver’s seat, not the passenger seat.

I do wish she had made a stronger point about how grit and SEL not being enough, especially since “school reformers” are using her research as part of the “No Excuses” mantra.

At the same time, I do agree that helping our students develop grit is one thing we can do in dealing with the world “as it is” instead of just operating in the world “as we’d like it to be.”

If you get a chance, read the Reddit transcript and let me know your thoughts on what you see.

June 11, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Won’t Researcher Roland Fryer Ever Give Up On Trying To Prove Extrinsic Motivation Works Better Than The Intrinsic Kind?

Harvard researcher Roland Fryer seems to just not want to give up on proving the effectiveness of extrinsic motivation among students, even though all the money he’s spent has proven to be unsuccessful.

His latest failure was bribing kids with free cellphones in exchange for receiving daily “inspirational” messages that they would be quizzed about. Result — zero academic improvement.

As I wrote in The Washington Post after another of failed schemes (see Bribing students: Another ‘magical solution’ that doesn’t work):

When I see studies like Fryer’s, I wonder what kinds of academic gains would be realized if, instead of spending $166 per student on cash payouts, those funds were provided to teachers and schools to do more of what my colleagues often spend their own time and money doing (and what our administrators work overtime trying to squeeze school funds to pay for). Like:

* Having reluctant readers choose books of their own which we then purchase for them.

* Buying multiple copies of books students want to use in a student-led independent discussion group.

* Supplying all classrooms with a collection of high-interest books.

* Having a well-stocked school library and flexible librarian.

* Training teachers in effective, engaging literacy strategies, including free voluntary reading.

* Having counselors spend enormous amounts of time tracking down ways students can get needed eyeglasses, medical check-ups, and dental work done.

* Providing computers and home internet access to immigrant families to use for language development.

* Going on field trips to neighborhood libraries and other enriching destinations.

None of these kinds of efforts come with the baggage of extrinsic motivation programs.

The word “incentives” comes from incendere, which means “to kindle.” The dictionary says that “to kindle” means “to start a fire burning.” We need to imagine that it is the student, not the teacher, who starts that fire.

You can read about his other similar research attempts at:

“If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail” — Economists Go After Schools Again

Krashen On Bribing Students To Read

September 30, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

U.S. Dept. Of Ed Announces Not One, Not Two, But Three Studies Show NY Performance Pay Generally Makes Things Worse

'200th Strikeout!' photo (c) 2007, Eric Kilby - license:

Three strikes, yer out!

The Institute Of Education Sciences has announced that out of three approved studies of a New York performance pay program, one showed across the board negative effects on student achievement; another showed negative effects in some areas and no effect in others; and a third one showed no effect at all (thanks to Morgan Polikoff).

The first study was conducted by Roland Fryer, who has turned into Captain Ahab going after the Moby Dick of using pay to increase student achievement.

I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning Why Teacher Merit Pay Is A Bad Idea.

September 25, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Study On Cash Rewards For Students Tries Really, Really, Really Hard To Make It Look Good

'Forex Money for Exchange in Currency Bank' photo (c) 2013, epSos .de - license:

Researcher Roland Fryer has been trying to prove for years — unsuccessfully — that cash incentives will result in higher student academic achievement. You can see my previous blog posts all his failures to show that this kind of strategy works. You might also want to read my Washington Post column Bribing students: Another ‘magical solution’ that doesn’t work.

Now, one of his and New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s pet projects, a cash rewards program in New York City, has issued a final evaluation that tries really, really — I mean really — hard to put lipstick on a pig. The Wall Street Journal has an article on it, and you read the entire report here.

Here’s my short summary of the mind-numbingly lengthy study:

After giving an extremely lengthy list of what giving cash clearly did not affect (including just about everything for elementary and middle school students, and almost everything for high school students), they claim that high school students who entered the program as academically “proficient” in ninth grade had an 8% higher graduation rate than the control group (those who entered ninth-grade as not academically proficient did not have a higher graduation rate). And though they really try hard to dodge it, it’s also pretty clear that positive impact only applied to girls.

In a number of academic areas, cash incentives were removed (it appears the program was redesigned at some point) and in at least some of those areas performance from the students in the program dipped even below those in the control group — surprise, surprise, that when extrinsic incentives were removed, motivation plummets. However, inexplicably, the researchers say they can’t say for sure that this is the reason for the dip. That’s pretty interesting, because in other parts of the report, they jump to conclusions that clearly have no evidence. For example, in one part of the report they attribute increased Internet use by students at home to computers purchased by families with incentive money students had earned, though they clearly don’t have a single shred of evidence that this is how families used the money.

When are these guys going to give up beating a dead horse?

August 12, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

This Week’s “Round-Up” Of Good Posts & Articles On Education Policy


photo credit: Milosh Kosanovich via photopin cc

Here are several relatively recent good posts and articles on educational policy issues:

California Districts Get NCLB Waiver Despite Union Objections is a great post by my colleague Alice Mercer. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles On The NCLB Waiver Given To Eight California School Districts (Including Ours).

Teacher Turnover Negatively Impacts Student Achievement in Math and English is from The Journal. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles About The Importance Of Teacher (& Student) Working Conditions.

Gary Rubinstein: Dramatic Collapse of Charter School Test Scores is at Diane Ravitch’s blog. It’s about the recent New York City testing fiasco.

Aaron Pallas has more commentary on what happened in New York.

Roland Fryer’s “No Excuses” Excuses is by Dr. John Thompson. This isn’t the first time that issues about Fryer’s research have appeared in this blog.

The MOOC ‘Revolution’ May Not Be as Disruptive as Some Had Imagined is from The Chronicle of Higher Education. I’m adding it to The Best Posts & Articles On MOOC’s — Help Me Find More.

July 30, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Best and Worst Education News of 2013 — So Far


I need to add one more “Best Of 2013 – So Far” list to the ones I’ve posted so far, and that’s my annual “The Best And Worst Education News Of 2013 — So Far.”

As usual, I don’t presume to say it’s all-encompassing, so I hope you’ll take time to share your own choices in the comment section. I’ll list the ones I think are the best first, followed by the worst. It’s too hard to rank them within those categories, so I’m not listing them in any order.

You might also be interested in previous editions of this list:

The best — and worst — education news of 2012

The Best (and Worst) Education News of 2011

The Best (and Worst) Education News of 2010

The Best Education News Of 2013 — So Far:

* The successful boycott of the unnecessary MAP standardized test by teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle that spread to six other local schools and inspired educators everywhere.  Teachers who participated in the boycott were not disciplined (as had been threatened) and using the MAP tests have now been made optional.  Garfield teachers’ strategy of organizing a united front of teachers, parents and students demonstrated that collective action can have a major impact on education policy that affects our classrooms.

* Passage and approval of California Governor Jerry Brown’s new funding formula that not only increases school funding across the board, but provides more monies to districts with higher numbers of low-income students.  We can only hope that it will be a model for other states to follow.

* The deaths of children (and adults) as a result of the terrifying Oklahoma tornado will never be considered anything but awful news.  But the heroic response of local educators risking their own lives to save their students is another reminder that teachers do put the interests of children ahead of their own.

* Two new exciting books, authored by some of the best minds in education policy, were published: Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools by Diane Ravitch and Teacherpreneurs: Innovative Teachers Who Lead But Don’t Leave by Barnett Berry, Ann Byrd and Alan Wieder. These “must-reads” are follow-ups to their previous exceptional books.

* More and more research was published supporting the view that, yes, our students need good schools, but if we’re truly serious about providing them with genuine opportunities,  what really needs to happen are major economic and political changes.  I suspect quite a few of us are tired of hearing the refrain of “No Excuses” when we point out this reality.

* And more and more research was published pointing out that, you know, schools in the United States are generally doing pretty well, though you wouldn’t know that by a lot of public rhetoric.

* Charlotte Danielson is the guru for many districts that are initiating new teacher evaluation programs.  Arthur Goldstein discovered a video of her declaring that standardized test scores should not be used in those teacher evaluations.  I wonder if district administrators are listening?  And, speaking of test scores and their validity in determining teacher quality, an important study determined that teacher success in helping students’ develop non-cognitive skills (an area of high-interest these days) had no relation to their Value Added Measurement (VAM) score.

* In his annual appearance on this list, Harvard professor Roland Fryer failed once again to prove that extrinsic motivation increased student achievement.  One of this year’s failed experiments was giving students cellphones and sending them daily “inspirational” text messages.  It didn’t work, but it did receive an advertising award.

* The millions of students who had great learning experiences in their schools this year.


The Worst Education News Of 2013 — So Far:

 * The North Carolina legislature went off the deep end in a number of areas, including eliminating teacher tenure and pay raises.

* Attacks on low-income communities continued with massive school closures in Chicago, Philadelphia and elsewhere.

* Here we go again — Cleveland’s newspaper published the Value Added ratings of teachers.

* Sadness, on a number of levels, in seeing the indictments of 34 Atlanta educators, including its former Superintendent, as a result of the test-cheating scandal there.

* Two surveys found what many of us knew already — that teacher morale is plummeting in the face of “school reform.”

* Bill Gates’ PBS-televised TED Talk where he announced that billions of dollars should be spent videotaping all teachers.  Almost simultaneously, the teacher he showed a video of in his talk said she disagreed with him.  And, even though his foundation announced at the same time they want to  start listening to teachers more, there was no chorus of “preach on, Bill!” from educators across the U.S.

* The millions of students who are not getting the education they deserve.

Again, feel free to point out what I’ve missed!

June 20, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2013 — So Far


I’m continuing to do early versions of “The Best Of The Year” lists so in December, when I do the final ones, I won’t have to review an entire year’s worth of posts.

I write many posts about recent research studies and how they can relate practically to the classroom. In fact, I post a regular feature called Research Studies of the Week. In addition, I write individual posts about studies I feel are particularly relevant to my work as a teacher.

You might also be interested in:

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2012 — So Far

My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2011

Here are my choices for My Best Posts On New Research Studies In 2013 — So Far:

Intriguing New Study On Student Engagement

Interesting New Study By Carol Dweck

How Many Studies Must A Man Do Before He Gives Up On Trying To Prove Extrinsic Motivation Works?

Won’t Researcher Roland Fryer Ever Give Up On Trying To Prove Extrinsic Motivation Works Better Than The Intrinsic Kind?

The Power Of Stories

The Importance Of Explaining “Why”

Study Says Ability To Identify Patterns Key To Second Language Learning

Another Study On Schools Providing Students Home Computers Finds The Obvious Results

Important Research On Grammar Instruction

Interesting Study, Disappointing Interpretation

Texting & Marshmallows

Quote Of The Day: “Sex Differences in Mathematics and Reading Achievement”

Appealing To The Self-Interest Of Bullies

Simple Writing Exercise Said To “Narrow Achievement Gap”

Need More Evidence About The Dangers Of Extrinsic Rewards? Here It Is From The Harvard Business Review

Another Example Of Mentoring Success

Our Students Are Not Supermen & Superwomen

How Did I Not Know About This National Academy Of Sciences Report On Student Motivation?

Media Coverage Of Mayo Clinic’s Research On Paying People To Lose Weight — Not Seeing The Forest For The Trees

“Short Bouts of Exercise Boost Self Control” — Is That Your Experience With Students?

Learning Another Language Makes Your Brain Grow Bigger — Literally

“The High Cost Of Rudeness”

Study: Self-Esteem Activity Helps Latino Students, Too

Study: More Power Equals More Self-Control & Less Power Equals — You Guessed It!

More Understanding Equals More Interest & Intrinsic Motivation

It’s Official: “What Works Clearinghouse” Approves Study That Shows Relationships Promote Perseverance & Cash Bonuses Do Not

Brain “Priming” In The Classroom

New Research Shows Why Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Character Education Are Not Enough

How Do We Contribute To Students Being Rude In Class?

Surprise, Surprise: Study Finds That Relationships Promote Perseverance & Cash Bonuses Do Not

The “Best Learning Techniques” Are Useless If Students Won’t Do Them — A Critical Take On A Well Done Study

More Info On Student Cellphone Use In Class Research

The Best Posts & Articles On The “Motivation Trumps IQ” Study

“Share your Good News, and You [ & Others ] will be Better Off”

Feedback is welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to consider subscribing to this blog for free.

You might also want to explore the 1100 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.

June 19, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

How Many Studies Must A Man Do Before He Gives Up On Trying To Prove Extrinsic Motivation Works?

The headline of this post is a feeble attempt at mimicking Bob Dylan’s “Blowing In The Wind,” and refers to yet another failed attempt by Roland Fryer in his seemingly limitless capacity to try to prove that extrinsic motivation works.

Headlined “New York Incentive Program for Teachers Falls Flat” in The Harvard Business Review, he states:

As global policy makers and school leaders look for ways to improve student performance, financial incentives programs for teachers have become increasingly popular. This article describes a school-based randomized trial in over 200 New York City public schools designed to better understand the impact of teacher incentives. I find no evidence that teacher incentives increase student performance, attendance, or graduation, nor do I find evidence that these incentives change student or teacher behavior. If anything, teacher incentives may decrease student achievement, especially in larger schools. The article concludes with a speculative discussion of theories to explain these stark results.


I’m adding this info to The Best Resources For Learning Why Teacher Merit Pay Is A Bad Idea.

March 13, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Krashen On Bribing Students To Read

In the next week or two, The Washington Post will be publishing a piece I’ve written about some recent examples of schools paying students cash for attendance and performing academic work.

While I was writing it, I revisited a well-known study by Roland Fryer that I’ve previously posted about (see The Problem With “Bribing Students” and More On The Problem With “Bribing Students”). One of the findings of that study that is often cited by supporters of this “cash incentive” idea was that paying second graders in Dallas resulted in “significant” gains in reading comprehension standardized tests and that a significant amount of that gain remained a year later.

Something about that finding always sounded fishy to me, but I just didn’t have it in me to plow through a nearly 200 page scholarly research paper. It’s also questionable if I would have understood what I was reading, either.

Fortunately, though, Dr. Stephen Krashen, the internationally-known language and literacy scholar, was interested and willing to analyze the research. Here is what he discovered in reviewing the section on the Dallas “success”:

Comments on Fryer, R. Financial Incentives and Student Achievement: Evidence from Randomized Trials Quarterly Journal of Economics, 126 (4): 1755-1998

S. Krashen, March 1, 2012

It is not correct to assume that this study demonstrated that incentives work and that the effect is lasting. Fryer (2011) paid second graders in Dallas $2 for each book they read and then passed the AR test on that book. Children were in general allowed to take each test only once, and had to score 80% or better correct to get credit. The duration of the study was one academic year. Students in the incentive program were compared to controls who were not in the program.

Incentives produced higher scores on the Iowa test for only one component, reading comprehension. Increases in vocabulary and language were not significant. When tested one year later, the effects were half that of the original effects and not significant.

This is hardly an overwhelming victory for incentives.

There are three major problems with this study:

The students were second graders. Second graders are not always independent readers. The easiest Goosebumps, for example, is at the third grade level.

They didn’t read very much: The average student earned $13.81. At $2 a book, this means that the students who got incentives read and passed AR tests on less than seven books during the entire year. And these are books for second graders, which means none of them were massive tomes. Is it possible that the comparisons read even less? (see below)

MOST SERIOUS. The incentive group did better than comparisons on one subtest, but we must ask “compared to what”? What did the comparisons do? The real question is whether an AR program with financial rewards is better than a literature-based print-rich program without incentives. Would children have done as well or better if they had just read the books without taking tests and getting paid?

This is the major flaw of all AR research, as I have argued in my reviews of AR research (see citations below).

AR has four components: (1) access to books, (2) provide time to read books, (3) take tests, (4) get rewards and the complete program is consistently compared to “traditional” instruction and is often (but not always) better. It is no surprise to see a program with all four components do better than one with none of them, but is this just because of the access and time dedicated to reading? Did the tests and prizes add anything?

There has been no attempt to see if components (3) and (4) add anything, no attempt to compare (1,2,3,4) with just (1,2). There is overwhelming evidence that the combination of (1) and (2) is in fact enough to produce excellent results, superior to traditional programs (Krashen, 2004), but the AR people have shown no interest in testing this simpler hypothesis.

Summary: Five out of six results were statistically insignificant. Only one was significant and the one significant result could have been because of more reading, not because of the tests and financial rewards.

Krashen, S. 2002. Accelerated reader: Does it work? If so, why? School Libraries in Canada 22(2): 24-26, 44.
Krashen, S. 2003. The (lack of) experimental evidence supporting the use of accelerated reader. Journal of Children’s Literature 29 (2): 9, 16-30.
Krashen, S. 2004a. A comment on Accelerated Reader: The pot calls the kettle black. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 47(6): 444-445.
Krashen, S. 2004b. The Power of Reading. Portsmouth: Heinemann and Westport: Libraries Unlimited.
Krashen, S. 2005. Accelerated reader: Evidence still lacking. Knowledge Quest 33(3): 48-49.
Krashen, S. 2007. Accelerated reading: Once again, evidence still lacking. Knowledge Quest September/October. 36 (1); 11-17


Thanks to Dr. Krashen for identifying the flaws in this report…..

May 17, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Learning About “Grit”

'Perserverance' photo (c) 2008, Wesley Fryer - license:

Check out my lesson at The New York Times for English Language Learners on “grit”, which includes a student interactive & teaching ideas.

Perseverance, or what Professor Angela Duckworth has labeled “grit,” is a key personal quality, and perhaps THE key quality, needed for success — according to her research.

I have a lesson plan on grit in my most recent book, Helping Students Motivate Themselves, and thought readers might find it useful to have a The Best…” list with additional resources.

You might also find some useful videos at The Best Videos Illustrating Qualities Of A Successful Language Learner.

Here are my choices for The Best Resources For Learning About The Importance Of “Grit”:

The Truth About Grit is an excellent article that appeared in the Boston Globe.

Which Traits Predict Success? (The Importance of Grit) is from Wired.

post, The Most Effective Thing I’ve Done To Prepare Students For Standardized Tests, one way I have used idea in my classroom.

Grit: Perseverance and Passion For Long Term Goals is a very accessible summary Professor Duckworth has written about her research.

And here is the link to her actual study of the same name.

If you go to link and scroll down a little bit you, and your students, can take her “grit study” after free registration.

The Myth of Innate Genius by David Shenk is a related article.

Here are two interviews with Professor Duckworth.

Here’s a short summary of her research.

Here’s a video of a talk Professor Duckworth gave on her research:

comes from Dr Kathie Nunley’s Educator’s Newsletter: “…task persistence in young adolescents
is extremely predictive of their income and occupational levels as adults. In males, it’s actually more predictive than even intelligence. Researchers
measured task persistence in 13 year olds and found that high task persistence predicted higher grades throughout high school and higher educational
attainment in adulthood. Andersson, H. & Bergman, L. (20100). “The role of task persistence in young adolescence for successful educational and
occupational attainment in middle adulthood.” Developmental Psychology, May 30, preview (no pagination specified).”

You might want to consider starting off a lesson on grit with video: Now Is What You Call Perseverance!

The Future of Self-Improvement, Part I: Grit Is More Important Than Talent
is not a new research study, but it does give a good short review of the research by Angela Duckworth about the importance of grit,or perseverance.

“The box score shows failure. To Lin, it reads like a teachable moment”

Everything You Wanted To Know About Grit, But Were Afraid To Ask…

In Spite Of Everything is a cartoon representation of a Vincent van Gogh quote.

Black Men’s College Success Depends on Grit, Not Just Grades, Study Finds is from Sarah Sparks at Education Week.

President Obama On Perseverance

(You can find the transcript to Professor Duckworth’s TED Talk here)

Michelle Obama On “Grit”

Grit: The Other 21st Century Skills is by Jackie Gerstein.


video is part of a new TED-Ed Lesson titled There’s no dishonor in having a disability. You can see the entire lesson here.

All I can say is…Wow.

The Significance of Grit: A Conversation with Angela Lee Duckworth doesn’t really have anything new to people familiar with Duckworth’s work, but it does provide a good overview.

No, L.A. School Reformers, Grit Does Not Equal Giving Students Rewards & Being Data-Driven

Highlights Of A Reddit Chat With Angela Duckworth & Roland Fryer

One of those resources I mentioned earlier in list is a simple “grit” test that anyone can take (it’s at Professor Duckworth’s site), and that I’ve had my students use. It’s useful, though you do have to register there before you can take it, and I don’t think the feedback given is particularly helpful.

However, I just discovered that The Globe and Mail have published a version of it online that can be taken without needing to register, and I like the feedback a bit better. It’s combined with a nice article on grit research.

Another new resource is a nice collection at Middleweb titled Helping Students Stick With Learning.

“Grit” Isn’t Everything, But I Still Think It’s Important For Students To Learn About (& Practice) It

True Grit: The Best Measure of Success and How to Teach It is by Vicki Davis.

Grit – motivating students is from teflreflections.

How Important is Grit in Student Achievement? is from MindShift. It gives a good overview of the research on the topic.

This Looks Interesting, Though I Have Some Concerns: Angela Duckworth Creates “Grit” Organization
This Has Me Concerned: “Study Links Teacher ‘Grit’ with Effectiveness, Retention”

DO TEACHERS NEED MORE ‘GRIT’? is an excellent series of commentaries at Education Week Teacher.

The Downside of “Grit” is by Alfie Kohn. I still think it’s an important concept to help students learn. However, this kind of backlash is understandable since some proponents have been communicating it as the answer to many educational problems. In fact, it’s just one of many skills our students need to develop in order to be successful.

Grit, Failure & Stuff Like That

Dilbert Demonstrates How The Concept Of “Grit” Can Be Misused

Reacting to personal setbacks: Do you bounce back or give up? is from Eureka Alert.

‘Grit’ May Not Spur Creative Success, Scholars Say is from Ed Week.

Self-Control, Grit & All That Stuff

Feedback is welcome.

If you found post useful, you might want to look at the 670 other “The Best…” lists and consider subscribing to blog for free.

January 15, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo

The Best Resources For Learning Why Teacher Merit Pay Is A Bad Idea

My bias is betrayed in the title of this post. Instead of providing a detailed explanation here about my I think merit pay is a bad idea, I think I’ll leave it to those who are better versed and more articulate to to make the case.

Here are my choices for The Best Resources For Learning Why Teacher Merit Pay Is A Bad Idea:

Late last year, the most extensive study ever conducted on merit pay was unveiled in Tennessee, and showed it didn’t work. I’ll start off with several resources and analyses of that study:

Three Questions For Those Who Dismiss The Nashville Merit Pay Study comes from Matthew Di Carlo at the Shanker blog.

Persistently Low-Performing Incentives also comes from the Shanker blog. Here, Matthew also examines other merit pay studies in addition to the one in Tennessee.

The long, failed history of merit pay and how the Ed Department ignores it is a piece in the Washington Post where Diane Ravitch discusses this new study, as well as others.

The research question that wasn’t asked comes from Bruce Baker.

You can access the actual Tennessee study here.

Here are additional resources not related to the Nashville study:

What’s Wrong With Merit Pay is by Diana Ravitch.

Another report was published last year by the Education Commission of the States examining several studies on merit pay. How do they analyze them?

Each of the studies of the four pay-for-performance systems found no conclusive
evidence to link the new merit pay system with higher student achievement.

Merit Pay Misfires is by Al Ramirez and appeared in Educational Leadership.

Teachers as Performers and Pay-4-Performance Plans was written by Larry Cuban.

Superintendents oppose governor on teacher pay is a newspaper article from New Jersey.

Spend Money Like It Matters was written by Frederick Hess and appeared in Educational Leadership.

Attention To Pay is another good post from The Shanker blog.

Merit Pay: A Perspective From the Classroom is also worth a look.

Study: $75M teacher pay initiative did not improve achievement is a report on the failed use of teacher merit pay in New York City.

The Folly of Merit Pay is by Alfie Kohn.

Merit Pay Is Not Merited is by Walt Gardner at Ed Week.

Think tank: Overpaying staff can reap rewards for businesses is by Daniel Pink.

Thoughts on the Failure of Merit Pay is by Diane Ravitch.

No merit in merit pay for teachers is by Walt Gardner and appeared in the Guardian

Very Useful Articles On Motivation

Performance Anxiety is from The Drucker Institute.

Merit Pay: Pay teachers enough so that money is no longer an issue is by Mel Riddile. Thanks to David B. Cohen for the tip.

Dan Ariely On Pay For Performance

Holding Accountability To Account is a report by Richard Rothstein that was written in 2008, but it’s new to me.

The New York City Department of Education recently abandoned a three year teacher performance bonus program that cost $56 million. The New York Times reports:

The decision was made in light of a study that found the bonuses had no positive effect on either student performance or teachers’ attitudes toward their jobs.

The study’s authors said:

Teachers also reported that improving as teachers and seeing their students learn were bigger motivators than a bonus…

Here’s one more excerpt from the article:

The results add to a growing body of evidence nationally that so-called pay-for-performance bonuses for teachers that consist only of financial incentives have no effect on student achievement, the researchers wrote.

Bob Sutton has written a post about the study, titled New York City Halts Teacher Bonus Program: Another Blow to Evidence-Resistant Ideology that is a must-read, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has published a column on it, too.

Zombie Postmortem: Why Merit Pay Died in NYC, and Why It’ll Rise Again (and Again, and Again…) is by Justin Baeder at Ed Week.

Merit Pay: The End Of Innocence? is from The Shanker Blog.

Will Rahm Emanuel’s Merit-pay System Work Where Others Haven’t? is by Freakonomics.

The Debate over Teacher Merit Pay: A Freakonomics Quorum has some very thoughtful responses.

“Idaho schools tie merit pay to parent involvement” is a post I wrote about an incredibly idiotic plan.

Variable pay-for-performance is a folly is a very interesting analysis from economists.

What Are Achievement Gains Worth — To Teachers? is an analysis of a failed New York merit pay scheme.

The Latest Wrinkle About Merit Pay for Teachers is by Walt Gardner at Education Week.

Stop Tying Pay to Performance:The evidence is overwhelming: It doesn’t work. is from The Harvard Business Review.

Merit pay, Merit pay, Merit pay… is from The Daily Kos and I’m also adding it to the same list.

Beyond Anecdotes: The Evidence About Financial Incentives And Teacher Retention is from The Shanker Blog.

As teacher merit pay spreads, one noted voice cries, ‘It doesn’t work’ is from The Washington Post.

Eight brief points about “merit pay” for teachers is by Daniel Pink.

The Trouble With Pay for Performance is from Education Week.

“Merit pay systems in the private sector have been found to hurt job performance”

Teachers’ performance pay ‘does not raise standards’ is from The BBC.

The Paradox Of Performance Pay is from Farnam Street.

Offering Financial Incentives ““may hinder the empathic processes needed to succeed” in “helping professions”

Will Pay For Performance Backfire? Insights From Behavioral Economics is by Steffie Woolhandler and Dan Ariely.

Promoting Quality Teaching: New Policy Report from Accomplished California Teachers has just been published. Here’s an excerpt from its description:

Currently, teacher pay is based primarily on years of service and continuing education, including advanced degrees. In recent years, pay-for-performance or merit-pay systems have been tried around the country—systems in which teachers are rewarded for student achievement, with achievement usually being measured by test scores.

The ACT report argues that neither system succeeds. And it offers a framework for professional growth and compensation that creates incentives for well-qualified individuals to enter the profession, continue to grow, and to what they know so that the entire enterprise of education improves. This report can be used to inform policy at the state and district level to create thoughtful, research-based compensation systems that actually improve teaching.

What Motivates Teachers: It’s More Than Money is from Education Week.

Incentive Pay Programs Do Not Affect Teacher Motivation or Reported Practices is a report on three studies.

Need More Evidence About The Dangers Of Extrinsic Rewards? Here It Is From The Harvard Business Review

How Many Studies Must A Man Do Before He Gives Up On Trying To Prove Extrinsic Motivation Works?

The Institute Of Education Sciences has announced that out of three approved studies of a New York performance pay program, one showed across the board negative effects on student achievement; another showed negative effects in some areas and no effect in others; and a third one showed no effect at all (thanks to Morgan Polikoff).

The first study was conducted by Roland Fryer, who has turned into Captain Ahab going after the Moby Dick of using pay to increase student achievement.

Must-Read Column By Joseph Stiglitz In NY Times: “In No One We Trust”

Teachers in Lee, MA, Return Merit Pay is from Diane Ravitch’s blog.

Performance pay for teachers: what is the true cost? is from The Guardian.

Pay-for-Performance for CEOs and Teachers is by Larry Cuban.

NY Times Column Skewers Performance Pay

For Reformers: An Important Paper on Worker Compensation and Incentives is by Paul Bruno, and is a very important piece.

Incentive Pay Programs Do Not Affect Teacher Motivation or Reported Practices: Results From Three Randomized Studies is from Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis.

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