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Teacher Merit Pay

July 21, 2011 Merit or Mistake In today’s society one of the most important factors in selecting a career field is rate of pay. No matter whether the profession maybe, the dollar figure must be within a range that allows the employee to maintain a substantial lifestyle. The debate of teacher pay scales has raged on for years. Many argue that the current pay scale for teachers is a scale which rewards teachers merely for seniority. They argue that the current pay scale overlooks those educators which demonstrate exceptional performance.

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Teacher merit pay systems have been the most popular suggestions made to remedy the problems seen with the current pay scale. Although the current pay scale may not be completely effective, the idea of teacher merit pay systems should be removed for the debate. Teacher merit pay systems fail to be effective solutions to the issues credited to teacher pay scales. Teacher merit pay systems undermine team work essential to effective education, limit the scope and effectiveness of teacher evaluations, and cripple schools abilities to create successful learning environments.

Teacher merit pay systems will mean the difference between creating schools and building educational institutes. Those who believe teacher merit pay systems are the answer argue that these systems would help motivate teachers to perform at a higher level. They believe that offering pay raises for those teachers which demonstrate exceptional educating would greatly improve the level of teaching being put forth inside the classroom. They feel as though the declining of the level of education is the fault of the pay scale which causes those teachers who are above and beyond the standard to lose motivation.

Although their point is valid it should be ignored due to its oversights. Merit pay systems would severely undermine the teamwork essential to effective education. The concept of merit pay creates situations where teachers can “piggyback” their ways to higher salaries. “Equal pay and equal treatment are fair only if individuals are equal in their effort and their contribution’ says Frederick M. Hess. Merit pay systems create unhealthy competition between educators which should be working together to ensure that the best possible educational is being given to every student.

If one observes an effective educational institution in operation, one will notice those institutions that are highly rated are essentially partnerships between various educators with various teaching styles and personalities teaming together to impart wisdom on young minds primed for educational molding. The general concept behind merit pay systems makes this type of partnership unattainable. In an article published in Education Week Kim Marshall stated that “When individuals are rewarded, collaboration suffers”.

Educators become more concerned with outperforming their counter parts to gain pay raises then working together to educate young minds. Those who are in favor of teacher merit pay systems feel as though the use of this system can eliminate the possibility of seniority outweighing high performance. They believe that those teachers in merit pay systems would be made to perform better in the classroom and demonstrate great teaching skills. Although there is some truth to this idea, it should not be accepted in the argument of teacher merit pay.

In the Christian Science Monitor Reg Weaver stated merit pay systems would warrant “an adherence to some type of evaluative standard “ This means that teacher evaluations would consists mainly of the scores from designated standardized tests. This would cause for teacher evaluators to either lessen the consideration of the intangibles a teacher possess or eliminate their consideration altogether. Intangibles such as how a teacher motivates and relates to students, and their command and control of subject matter being taught cannot be measured solely by standardized tests scores.

Kim Marshall also stated that standardized tests “aren’t valid for a one-shot assessment of individual teachers; and it takes at least three years of value-added data for reliable patterns to emerge”. Additional factors can also be overlooked during teacher evaluations such as initial achievement levels of students prior to entering that class, and lack of parental backing essential to the retaining of education. Teachers in merit pay systems stand a strong chance of being penalized for coming out on the wrong side of the luck of the draw.

Those who feel teacher merit pay is the best option believe that it will ensure that the best learning environment is put forth. They believe that they will have more of a say-so as to how students are taught. They also believe they will be better able to cater lesson plans and curriculums to the needs of students. Even though these proposals sound great, they are untrue. Teacher merit pay would cripple schools abilities to create successful learning environment.

This would be caused by a rise in Federal and State regulations The Federal government may be inclined to intervene when schools fail to meet their strict benchmarks for success. State governments would be greatly involved in the supervision of schools and their consistent compliance with regulations they have set forth. Federal and State governments are able to set guidelines and regulations but are unable to know the specific needs of the student body in each respective district. The control would not remain local as it should.

Federal and State governments are not able to take into consideration the language barriers, and poverty levels in areas that are evaluated as to have shown low marks. Teacher would also suffer from this increased Federal and State supervision. Teacher would have less input than they had before. Reg Weaver stated “Bonuses cannot substitute for a working environment high on trust and meaningful work’. Teachers with less input would in turn lose motivation and create an even greater decline in education levels. Teacher merit pay may never be a resolved issue.

It has been a back and forth debate for its entire entirety. Many have argued that merit pay would be far superior to that of the current pay scale. They are against the idea of a simple statistic of tenure outweighing the value of exemplifying first class performance. Their arguments are somewhat correct but not enough to be considered in an issue that can cause a national wide fall out, being that many states follow the lead of others. Merit pay supporters fail to mention the ways in which teamwork can be ignored and cause a hindrance in the promotion of excellence in education.

They fail to mention that teacher merit pay systems create ineffective teacher evaluations, due to its firm belief that standardized tests scores are the holy grail of teachers everywhere. They also fail to mention the lessened amount of local control over what is being taught to student and how it is being taught, due to increased Federal and State legislation that is sure to follow. Teacher merit pay could very well be the preverbal worm in the teacher’s apple. * Outline

Teacher Merit Pay would undermine teamwork essential to effective education. Opposition Pay raise should be based on performance Raised pay would motivate teachers to perform more effectively Rebuttal Teachers can “piggyback” their way to higher pay. Creates “unhealthy” competition between teacher Further Confirmation “When individuals are rewarded, collaboration suffers Teachers become more concerned with outperforming each other Teacher merit pay limits the scope and effectiveness of teacher evaluations Opposition

Eliminates the possibility of seniority outweighing performance Would force teachers to perform better in the classroom and demonstrate exceptional teaching skills. Rebuttal Evaluations would mainly consist of standardized test scores Consideration of intangible teacher skills would be lessened Further Confirmation “Tests scores are not valid for one-shot assessments” Teachers can be penalized for coming out on the wrong side of the luck of the draw. Teacher Merit Pay would cripple schools abilities to create successful learning environments. Opposition

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