October 30, 2003

carrots and sticks ...

Blogger and teacher Betsy Newmark writes:

The News and Observer reports that the gap in North Carolina between black and white students is narrowing. And, guess what? The stick of the No Child Left Behind and the mandated tests is forcing teachers and principals to focus more on helping underachieving students. The theory is working. I observed this firsthand when I taught in a public middle school. For years we would talk about all the things we should do to help those students but we actually did very little. Then NC passed a yearly testing program with carrots (bonus checks) for schools that met their goals and sticks (more paperwork and supervision) for schools that did not. And voila! All of a sudden the principal was shifting around funds to have reading teachers for low-ability students. We had tutoring programs. Students had to give up fun, fluffy electives and take reading and math electives if they had low scores. We'd always talked about doing those sorts of things. But it didn't get done until we started having to worry about public test scores....
The reason businesses tend to keep moving fairly briskly is that there's a guy named "profit 'n loss" running behind them with a cattle-prod. If he catches up with you, life becomes very tiresome.

So how do we devise carrots and sticks for bureaucracies?

Posted by John Weidner at October 30, 2003 5:48 PM
Weblog by John Weidner