Samples Teaching Merit Pay for Teachers

Merit Pay for Teachers

1037 words 4 page(s)

Merit pay is the idea that teachers should be paid based upon their merit; the amount of work that they put into the students themselves, and the amount of progress that the students show. There are many different pros and cons to the idea of merit pay for teachers, however, after a simple review of these pros and cons it would be possible to see that this situation is not feasible in the United States at this time, if ever.

Merit pay, alternately referred to as “pay for performance” (ECS, 2010), is the idea that a teacher’s compensation should be tied to their performance in the classroom, and “while the idea of merit pay for teachers has been around for several decades, only now is it starting to be implemented in a growing number of districts around the country” (ECS, 2010). There are several different reasons behind this shift in perspective, including the idea that “teachers are holding back. They can produce better learning, but they’re just not motivated to do so” (Ramirez, 2010). This type of idea may appear to have merit from a standpoint outside of the teaching system itself, but the issues with the teaching system are not caused by teachers giving up, rather this is a symptom of the disease itself, a disease that has arisen as a result of a shift towards standardized tests; these standardized tests are being pushed more and more on the teachers as administrators are seeing that the money they receive to be used within the school is determined based upon the test scores that the school gets on an overall basis from these standardized tests. Students are being taught to the test instead of taught, and this type of educational environment is not beneficial for the teachers or the students, and as such, teachers are not able to produce better learning.

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Another argument in regards to merit pay is the idea that “policymakers know what good teaching is and can easily measure it” (Ramirez, 2010); again this goes back to the issue of standardized testing. If policymakers truly knew what was good for the students they would see that their increasing focus on standardized testing was not a beneficial one, and in turn they would see that the idea of merit based pay is equally fallible.

A third reason given for a change to a merit pay based system for teachers is that “greed is good (and) teachers will respond to financial rewards” (Ramirez, 2010). The teachers that respond to greed are not the teachers that have become teachers because they want to teach, they are the people who have become teachers because they want summers off; they have become teachers for the wrong reasons, and it is people like that who have caused issues with the merit pay system in places where it has started to be implemented, as in the case of Atlanta, Georgia in 2011 wherein “178 teachers and principals – 82 of whom confessed – (participated) in what is likely the biggest cheating scandal in U.S. history” (Jonsson, 2011).

In spite of these issues, there are still states that are pushing to pay teachers based on their performance, and some teachers are “eligible for $2,000 a year or more in merit bonuses based on how well (their) students perform in classroom observations and on achievement tests” (Turner, 2010), but is this really what America wants her teachers to become? If teachers continue to cheat in order to try to get more money, if it is pushed towards this merit based system, what kind of people will that lead into the teaching field, and is this something that Americans want their students to learn, that it is okay no matter what, so long as it earns an extra dollar in the bank account?

“Overall, there is insufficient evidence to support claims that pay for performance will improve achievement in the United States” (Protheroe, 2011), and that is the bottom line, plain and simple. There is no indication that this will improve student achievement, and there is already a large amount of evidence that supports the basis that this will actually serve to further hinder student performance. If the American populace wishes to work to increase student performance, they should look to other nations, nations that have had poor quality or lower quality education in the past and have worked in order to turn around the quality of education that they provide to their students; Finland is one such nation, and they have made their reforms without “outsourced school management…, implemented merit pay, or ranked teachers and schools according to test results, (instead) they’ve made excellent use of business strategies” (Abrams, 2011). Simple changes, such as working to ensure that all students get to play at least once a day, working to provide a different form of engagement and ensuring that students are better able to stay focused.

Instead of attempting to rely on greed, or a form of gluttony, or on standardized testing, a look at the different ways that other countries have succeeded without these choices will serve to allow the United States to see what is wrong with her education system today, and in seeing this, hopefully it will serve as a means of allowing changes to start to be made within the school system itself, increasing the level of public education in that regard. It is true that public education in America today is at an all-time low, but the implementation of merit pay is not the correct means of correcting the matter; this will only serve to decrease the quality of education that is currently present to an even further all-time low.

    References
  • Abrams, Samuel E. “The Children Must Play.” The New Republic. The New Republic, 28 Jan. 2011. Web. 21 May 2013. .
  • Dorie Turner. “States Push to Pay Teachers Based on Performance.” Sign On San Diego. Sign On San Diego, 08 Apr. 2010. Web. 21 May 2013. .
  • ECS. “Teacher Merit Pay: What Do We Know?” The Progress of Education Reform. Education Commission of the States, June 2010. Web. 21 May 2013. .
  • Jonsson, Patrik. “America’s Biggest Teacher and Principal Cheating Scandal Unfolds in Atlanta.” Christian Science Monitor (2005): n. pag. EBSCO. Web. 21 May 2013. .
  • Protheroe, Nancy. “Performance Pay for Teachers.” National Association of Elementary Principals. National Association of Elementary Principals, Mar.-Apr. 2011. Web. 21 May 2013. .