Should teacher pay be based on merit?

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  1. mysterylady 89 profile image60
    mysterylady 89posted 12 years ago

    If so, how should merit be determined?

    1. profile image0
      Brenda Durhamposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      If they're not doing their job, they should be dismissed.
      Why would one  teacher earn more than another of similar education and ability?  Because that is how they're hired, correct?..on the basis of their education and ability,  for positions that match that.

    2. psycheskinner profile image83
      psycheskinnerposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I don't think bureacrats are capable of measuring teacher merit accurately, so no.

      1. Jeff Berndt profile image74
        Jeff Berndtposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        PS, I think that teacher performance can be measured, but to get a realistic/authentic measure of how well a given teacher is doing, you have to measure a lot of stuff besides how well the students do on standardized tests.

        You'll need to measure how well the kid did before on those tests, and how well the kid does after being in that teachers classroom, and compare.

        You'll need to see how fluently the kid and read and write, both before and after (this can't really be measured on a standardized test).

        You'll need to see if the kid has learned how to learn on his own (can't be measured on a standardized test)

        You'll need to follow the kids' academic careers and see how they do, and factor out the stuff that the teacher can't control (anything outside of the classroom).

        All of that evaluation is doable, but expensive. We'd rather rely on standardized tests, though, because they're cheap.

        If we give teachers merit-based pay (like folks in the corporate sector get Managed Business Objectives with bonuses at the end of the quarter tied to those Objectives), we need to be willing to measure merit is such a way that actual merit is measured.

        1. psycheskinner profile image83
          psycheskinnerposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          I think what you outline is essentially impossible to do under the constraints of the current system.

          1. Jeff Berndt profile image74
            Jeff Berndtposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            It's certainly too expensive.

        2. profile image0
          EmpressFelicityposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          And if you're measuring merit to that sort of nth degree, then teachers will spend all their time ticking boxes to demonstrate their "merit", rather than actually teaching.

          (Been there, done that, bought the extra large T-shirt with the nasty stains down the front.  It was adult ed that I worked in rather than schools, but the principle was the same.)

  2. wilderness profile image96
    wildernessposted 12 years ago

    Yes, and that's a good question, isn't it?

    A recent article in our newspaper indicated a bunch of teachers (and higher in the school hierarchy) are being fired somewhere for cheating on tests.  Often watching children taking the test and providing answers, sometimes actually erasing the wrong answer and writing in the correct one.  It got them more money.

    Paying high wages for mediocre or poor teachers is a travesty; nearly all work of any kind should be based on merit.  I just don't have any idea how to do it in the case of teachers.

  3. alternate poet profile image67
    alternate poetposted 12 years ago

    YES - it would save millions of dollars/pounds in wasted tax-payers money big_smile

  4. IzzyM profile image88
    IzzyMposted 12 years ago

    I'm not impressed with the teachers at my kids school. They told me my son could read perfectly well, when we noticed if we covered up the pictures, he didn't have a clue!
    He'd been reading by memorising the pictures! I spoke to a school teacher pal of mine and she that was how kids learned.
    Well, Janet and John didn't have a lot of pictures when I first learned to read.
    I'm disappointed with the school teachers of today, in the main. Kids leave school now not being able to read and write properly, because teachers were discouraged from correcting errors or whatever it was. School leavers can't count without the use of a calculator. My kids get top marks in their class because they can spell their names! It's turning them into little madams and there is no evidence they are actually educated. They couldn't pass an exam paper from the 70s.

    1. profile image0
      china manposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I am involved in education in China - they look at our systems that visiting 'professionals' try to impose, sell, insinuate into, etc etc - and are not impressed.  Our wonderful systems that change every five minutes and centre around the teacher and the teacher's needs and wants, do not perform as well as their old fashioned rote system.  Most people would agree ( I think) that plain rote learning is not a good way of teaching BUT neither is our supposedly creative way of teaching.  If either system has good teachers it works and with bad teachers they both fail; I am working on possible ways of keeping the rote learning here while also introducing elements of creative learning.  Chinese students are self disciplined, attentive and responsible, but often lack any inquisitiveness or creative ability, how to keep the good side and do something about the creative side is an interesting problem.

      1. Sab Oh profile image57
        Sab Ohposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        "Chinese students are self disciplined, attentive and responsible, but often lack any inquisitiveness or creative ability"

        Perpetuating stereotypes is not positive or responsible.

  5. rusticyeti profile image66
    rusticyetiposted 12 years ago

    I think teachers should be paid based on personal evaluations from the principles, their educational history, and number of years they have been teaching.
    Pay based on student results is nonsense, for the reasons stated by Wilderness and IzzyM, and also because some kids get good grades regardless of the teacher involved.

    1. randomcreative profile image90
      randomcreativeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I agree.  It's absurd that teachers who have completely burned out and don't do anything anymore can keep their jobs while young, motivated teachers who don't have experience keep getting laid off, simply because a grade lets go of a teacher for a year or the budget is cut.  There has to be more to the equation than years of experience.

  6. Jule Romans profile image96
    Jule Romansposted 12 years ago

    My main concern with merit pay is in the realm of academic freedom. One of the reasons tenure was "invented" was to protect the free exchange of ideas as apart of education. Merit pay, in my opinion, subverts the entire intent of educational discourse. When teachers are pitted against one another, there will be even less collegial sharing of ideas.

    An atmosphere of competition is perhaps healthy for businesses, but not for education. Education is NOT a business. It is something quite different.

    1. Sab Oh profile image57
      Sab Ohposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      "An atmosphere of competition is perhaps healthy for businesses, but not for education. "

      It is VERY healthy for education, that's why higher education in the US (based on competition) is by far the best in the world and public k-12 education in the US (non-competitive) does not compare as well as it should with other countries.

      1. alternate poet profile image67
        alternate poetposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        If this was true - why are so many of your college grads so plain stupid and steeped in mythical nonsense, including creationism?  It is so refreshing to occasionally meet a well educated intelligent college grad or two amongst the multitude.

        The US education is quantified as pretty much 'remedial' by the rest of the world, from other countries who do have good education systems.

        1. Sab Oh profile image57
          Sab Ohposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          AGAIN, your persistent anti-Americanism, phobia of religion, and obsession with insulting others cannot alter reality. US higher education is by far the best in the world because it is the product of opportunity AND competition.

          1. alternate poet profile image67
            alternate poetposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            big_smile big_smile big_smile  you keep right on believing that big_smile

            1. Sab Oh profile image57
              Sab Ohposted 12 years agoin reply to this

              It is a matter of fact, not faith.

              1. alternate poet profile image67
                alternate poetposted 12 years agoin reply to this

                Maybe this is your issue - you confuse faith with fact big_smile

                I can't be bothered to go look for it but in the recent world figures the US is way down the list in its education provision, close to some so-called third world countries.

                1. wilderness profile image96
                  wildernessposted 12 years agoin reply to this

                  I see where Loyola Law in Los Angeles will add .333 to each grade assigned, retroactive for the past few years.  They claim that at least 10 other law schools have changed their grading system to accomplish the same thing - make their students look more attractive in the market place.

                  This is called "quality education" to inflate grades for economic reasons???

        2. Shadesbreath profile image82
          Shadesbreathposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          That's because we're too busy teaching apologist crap that focuses on everything that doesn't fit into the utopian ideal of how history was supposed to go.  And while we all writhe and grimace about how horrible our ancestors were and spend all our effort developing programs, curriculum and policies to prove how enlightened we are now and how bad we feel, nobody can read, do math or deep think.  It's no wonder the world is laughing at us (and our politicans and corporations are raping us from both ends).

          1. alternate poet profile image67
            alternate poetposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            The truth is that you do have sections of very good education, but they seem to be for the already rich. The colleges that take the rest would appear to be less than average from the graduates that I often meet.  There are also well educated graduates from the same colleges that produce sub-standard results - the difference seems to come with self-motivation and strength of character.  These are admirable people with a good balanced world view (whether it agrees with mine or not). My experience is that around two thirds conform to some unrealistic view of life by anyone's standards, or are blindly religious, or just terminally confused.

            The raping as you put it can only happen because a large segment of society is conditioned to accept the controls

            1. Sab Oh profile image57
              Sab Ohposted 12 years agoin reply to this

              "but they seem to be for the already rich"

              Wrong again. Bias and anecdotes are not the basis of logical conclusions.

      2. psycheskinner profile image83
        psycheskinnerposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        How is higher education based on competition?  It is based on tenure (making someone impossible to fire no matter how usefless they are).

  7. Petra Vlah profile image59
    Petra Vlahposted 12 years ago

    Everybody else is paid according to their performance on the job, right? Why should be any different for teachers?

    1. psycheskinner profile image83
      psycheskinnerposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I don't know about you, but I get paid a regular salary.

  8. jennshealthstore profile image82
    jennshealthstoreposted 12 years ago

    I believe that all teachers should start off the same, and like in any other positon that you have, the better you do the more raises you get. While one teacher might be very good, there might be another who goes above and beyond what is required of them. My daughter's teacher always brought in presents and prizes for the students as rewards which she paid for out of her own pocket. She was a great teacher, and yes she should be rewarded for that.

    1. profile image0
      ryankettposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I agree mostly with this ^^^

      Although I am sure that we would see situations whereas people are better than their seniors know or think, or others make their way to the top of the pay scale through blatant brownnosing. But then in that situation, they can move to another school and try to make a better impression... the same situation as everybody else can find themselves in at work.

  9. habee profile image93
    habeeposted 12 years ago

    As a retired teacher, I have mixed feelings about merit pay. How is performance measured? What if Mrs. Jones has a class of well behaved, smart kids with involved parents, while Mrs. Smith has a class of unruly kids who are frequently absent and get no support from home? I think it would be impossible to create a "level playing field." I do, however, like the idea of merit pay.

    1. wilderness profile image96
      wildernessposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      For the upper grades where teachers have far more students, what about merit pay based on the past 4 or 5 years?  Perhaps the first 4 set by contract, then merit based on the prior 4 years?  That would help level the field, and encourage good teachers to stay, while encouraging poor teachers to leave (the school taking them might not be happy, though).

      Just a thought......

    2. mysterylady 89 profile image60
      mysterylady 89posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I agree with you.  When people advocate merit pay, they often do not take into consideration the huge role parents play in education.  The state of Florida has as a motto "No child left behind" but I pity the poor teacher If she has a class like your Mrs. Smith's and her pay is determined by how well her students do on a standardized test.

  10. Jule Romans profile image96
    Jule Romansposted 12 years ago

    When I mentioned competition I meant among and between individual teachers, not entire school districts.

    I agree that our system has many flaws.  I agree that our students are woefully under-prepared think deeply, critically or for sustained amounts of time. I agree that  all education professionals should honor their profession and live up to a higher standard in their work. I, too, am very disappointed to see public reminders that SOME teachers do not work as they should.

    However, I do not think that continuing to do what we have done in the past will fix anything. Public education is still practiced in essentially the same way- an individual (usually female) alone in a room with 20-30 children. For a very long time (perhaps for the entire history of public education in the US) we have placed the entire burden of education on the individual classroom teacher. We call for more individual accountability, demand the performance of a huge array of tasks, insist that vacations, health care and other perks are undeserved, and create a general atmosphere of contempt prior to investigation.

    I welcome visitors to my classroom. I invite anyone to spend a day or two fully immersed in the job of teachers at my school. Then, I would be happy to hear what they suggest. Students do not always tell the whole truth, or perceive the entire picture.

    The classroom teacher is only one part of the equation. Merit pay seems to me to be another instance of holding the front-line soldier accountable for Napoleon's  Waterloo.

    Now, not to sound defensive, but there are a few questions I often ask those who point out my "short work hours" and easy job:

    1) When you are at work and you have to go to the bathroom, what do you do?
    2) When you are at work and you are thirsty, what do you do?
    3)When you are at work and you would like to speak with someone to help solve a problem, what do you do?

    It is very likely that whatever it is you  ordinarily do, I cannot. I do not mind this. I respect and appreciate the work and working conditions of other professionals.  I simply wish for the same consideration in return.

    1. mysterylady 89 profile image60
      mysterylady 89posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      JR, I so totally agree with you!  Another question I would like to ask, and one that seems to be avoided these days, is whether anyone realizes the fact that students DO vary in intelligence.  The word "retarded" has become a big no-no.  I do not know whether it is because of heredity or environment or the educational system or whatever, but some kids seem not very bright to begin with.  If we agree on this point, we must also agree that no matter how dedicated the teacher and how hard she tries, sometimes students wiill fail.  And the teacher is NOT to blame!

  11. harveyshawn profile image57
    harveyshawnposted 12 years ago

    Maybe the merit system should be created for the students. Instead of putting tax payers dollars into programs that are not needed. They should devise some sort money merit system for the students. If we look at this world the only motivation most people have is for money. Everything going on in this world is about money. So if the students are given a money merit system, it would give them more incentive to want to learn, and if you have a happy child it would make the teachers' jog a lot easier...

  12. Polly C profile image91
    Polly Cposted 12 years ago

    I don't know about pay based on merit, maybe it would be a good idea.  All I know is that my son's teacher is useless this year, it's by far his worst year since he started school 6 years ago. Somebody did warn me, but I prefer to find things out for myself  - they were right, he has not progressed one bit, in fact I think he has regressed. Teacher's skills vary so much - not necesarily on knowledge, but on the teacher's ability to motivate the pupils and control the class.

    1. mysterylady 89 profile image60
      mysterylady 89posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Polly C, i realize what you are saying.  I know there are good teachers and bad teachers, those who can motivate and those who cannot.   The problem is how to arrive at an evaluation tool to determine merit.  A good administrator can know simply by walking down the halls of his school.  But many administrators are not very good at all.  And let's face it, if pay is determined on merit, there should still be some objective way to determine merit.

  13. lxxy profile image60
    lxxyposted 12 years ago

    I think that's a possibility, to some degree. Some students refuse to learn, but if we're re-writing how teachers are paid, we should well re-write the entire school system in general while we're at it. wink

  14. profile image49
    jandjhartleyposted 12 years ago

    I find it interesting that rarely did the responsibility of the parent come up in this conversation.  If the teacher is horible and useless and the problem is how to motivate the student to learn, perhaps it means the parent needs to take greater initiative and do more instruction and motivation at home.  It holds the benefit that when the child does have an excellent motivating teacher, the child will in addition be self motivated, which is required more and more as they get older.
    There is such a thing as "merit pay" here in the Ontario school system - it's called getting promoted.  If a teacher never does anything to further themself professionally, and performs weakly in the classroom, they will not be hired for promotions including department headships and administration.  Also there are unsung perks to a job well done - teaching classes you enjoy, having your own room to teach in, having additional sections of senior level classes... No they are not monetary benefits, but not all benefits are monetary. 

    Teachers become teachers for one simple reason (almost without exception) because they enjoy teaching and helping students.  It may not be the way you'd do the job, but there is vast variety in they "types" of students we interact with year after year.  Often times the methods that work with one student will not work as well with another.  Those students who are most successful in their studies will likely remain most successful regardless of their teacher or their teacher's methods.  Students who are least successful typically, may need totally different methods.  Dont' knock the teacher's methods just because they don't align with yours.  They're simply different - not necessarily good or bad.  Frankly the fact that a teacher with a "different" approach can keep a borderline student attending school on a regular basis is something of an educational miracle!  And those lower end students normally don't have anyone at home to motivate them or give them additional instruction.  How is that teacher's merit to be measured, particularily if the standards are set by parents who value their "top end" students above all others?

  15. profile image0
    ryankettposted 12 years ago

    On my flight to San Fran I watched a docu about American teachers, it was shocking!

    They basically can't be sacked, so have no motivation to be good at their jobs, wouldn't we all want to be in a job which pays us to sit there and refuse to teach?

    Defo something that you need to change.

  16. Evan G Rogers profile image61
    Evan G Rogersposted 12 years ago

    God no.

    Prices are determined by "yeah, i'll do that for that amount of money"

    that's it.

  17. habee profile image93
    habeeposted 12 years ago

    I'm a retired teacher, and I like the idea of merit pay, IF there's a fair way to assess merit. Test scores aren't the answer. If a teacher has a class of "Track One" students, her test scores will be higher than a teacher with a group of "Track Three" students.


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