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Old 12-15-2011, 09:38 AM
 
9,089 posts, read 9,186,758 times
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As a non-educator with educators in my family, I have struggled with the whole issue of merit pay for teachers. My main problem with merit pay is that I think its hard to objectively measure "merit". The concept lends itself to many abuses. We don't want a system where the principal or school administration simply gives pay increases to teachers who have the right family connections or to teachers who do little in the classroom, but who are good at never offending or upsetting anyone.

At the same time, the public is absolutely demanding more accountability out of the educational system than we have been getting. I bet every teacher here can think back on their own experience in school and come up with several teachers who were truly excellent and a great inspiration. Sadly, on the other hand, I bet they can come up with several other names of teachers who were doing a poor job and should have been doing something else to earn a living. More importantly, people who work in the private sector have seen layoffs, very marginal pay increases, and often lower quality benefits these last few years. It is not realistic to think that education or any portion of government can be immune from market forces over the long term.

I don't think anyone disagrees with the idea or premise that good teachers ought to be rewarded. How do we do that fairly and equitably?

My question for the educators here is can you devise or propose some type of merit pay system for teachers that would not be subject to the abuses I have listed above? How would the system function?
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Old 12-15-2011, 09:42 AM
 
Location: Whoville....
25,393 posts, read 30,604,103 times
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Other than difficulty of material taught, I really can't. Some subjects are more difficult and require greater understanding. Good/bad teacher are subjective evaluations. I have one administrator who thinks I'm the best thing since sliced bread and one for whom I can do nothing right. I'm sure my actual performance is somewhere in between but my evaluation depends on which one evaluates me.
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Old 12-15-2011, 10:04 AM
 
2,612 posts, read 4,745,394 times
Reputation: 3943
Quote:
Originally Posted by markg91359 View Post
As a non-educator with educators in my family, I have struggled with the whole issue of merit pay for teachers. My main problem with merit pay is that I think its hard to objectively measure "merit". The concept lends itself to many abuses. We don't want a system where the principal or school administration simply gives pay increases to teachers who have the right family connections or to teachers who do little in the classroom, but who are good at never offending or upsetting anyone.

At the same time, the public is absolutely demanding more accountability out of the educational system than we have been getting. I bet every teacher here can think back on their own experience in school and come up with several teachers who were truly excellent and a great inspiration. Sadly, on the other hand, I bet they can come up with several other names of teachers who were doing a poor job and should have been doing something else to earn a living. More importantly, people who work in the private sector have seen layoffs, very marginal pay increases, and often lower quality benefits these last few years. It is not realistic to think that education or any portion of government can be immune from market forces over the long term.

I don't think anyone disagrees with the idea or premise that good teachers ought to be rewarded. How do we do that fairly and equitably?

My question for the educators here is can you devise or propose some type of merit pay system for teachers that would not be subject to the abuses I have listed above? How would the system function?
I have always thought that extra pay for some teachers is a fine idea as long as it was not linked to test scores. There is no getting around the fact that principals will have some influence - it's that way in every industry though. Bosses are not perfect.

I think merit pay should be based on the things teachers are already doing but not being recognized or paid for. My school had a lot of required professional development - and I mean like 4-5 hours a week unpaid professional development - and many "community" or school service activities that were a mix of required and voluntary (sponsoring clubs, doing after school stuff, helping out with school fairs and other events). These things are what take the work week from 40-50 hours and bring it to 70+ for some teachers. And add to that the professional work (presenting papers, publishing) that the very best and most ambitious teachers do, and it becomes very clear who is really doing more. I think there should be a clear-cut system to record and track all these activities which are already encouraged or required, but which are not paid and don't happen during the contract day. Then that could be used to properly compensate teachers for this extra work.

Why look for a system to pay some teachers more when many teachers are already doing more than they are paid for? We should just start by paying people for what they are already doing.
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Old 12-15-2011, 01:36 PM
 
Location: St Louis, MO
4,677 posts, read 4,791,824 times
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I still support the Ladue model, which teachers generally love too:
http://cpre.wceruw.org/conference/nov03/Ladue_2003.pdf
It has absolutely no link to test scores whatsoever, and has been in place for 50+ years.
Only problem is, taxpayers do not like it because it is expensive (nearly 50% more than the average school district). Ladue actually runs their district like a college, taking donations from alumni with an endowment fund. And even with a median income around $180k, it still has trouble funding merit based pay.
There is also one other catch that Ladue has learned to effective merit pay that taxpayers will not like. Salaries are confidential. The public loses their right to know how much any individual teacher makes, just like in a private organization. Without that, merit pay obviously collapses.
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Old 12-15-2011, 04:25 PM
 
16,563 posts, read 13,968,701 times
Reputation: 20517
Quote:
Originally Posted by markg91359 View Post
As a non-educator with educators in my family, I have struggled with the whole issue of merit pay for teachers. My main problem with merit pay is that I think its hard to objectively measure "merit". The concept lends itself to many abuses. We don't want a system where the principal or school administration simply gives pay increases to teachers who have the right family connections or to teachers who do little in the classroom, but who are good at never offending or upsetting anyone.

At the same time, the public is absolutely demanding more accountability out of the educational system than we have been getting. I bet every teacher here can think back on their own experience in school and come up with several teachers who were truly excellent and a great inspiration. Sadly, on the other hand, I bet they can come up with several other names of teachers who were doing a poor job and should have been doing something else to earn a living. More importantly, people who work in the private sector have seen layoffs, very marginal pay increases, and often lower quality benefits these last few years. It is not realistic to think that education or any portion of government can be immune from market forces over the long term.

I don't think anyone disagrees with the idea or premise that good teachers ought to be rewarded. How do we do that fairly and equitably?

My question for the educators here is can you devise or propose some type of merit pay system for teachers that would not be subject to the abuses I have listed above? How would the system function?
Merit pay destroys collegiality and the sense of community in a school. I frequently share labs, assessments, etc with other science teachers in my district. I also frequently work on cross curricular projects with the English teacher in my grade. If merit pays were implemented those would stop, since sharing my intellectual property could make other teachers look better than me.


Additionally, teachers do not work in a vacuum and it is impossible to assign "credit" to one teacher or another. For example I teach chemistry, if the math teacher makes leaps and bounds in teaching math to his/her students my student scores will come up as a result. So even if I do nothing, it will appear as if I "improved" somehow.

Merit pay is a band-aid on a head wound and until we address the real issues facing public education in this country nothing will change. But politicians will use merit pay as a way to keep people from actually addressing those issues.
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Old 12-15-2011, 04:32 PM
 
16,563 posts, read 13,968,701 times
Reputation: 20517
Quote:
Originally Posted by marigolds6 View Post
I still support the Ladue model, which teachers generally love too:
http://cpre.wceruw.org/conference/nov03/Ladue_2003.pdf
It has absolutely no link to test scores whatsoever, and has been in place for 50+ years.
Only problem is, taxpayers do not like it because it is expensive (nearly 50% more than the average school district). Ladue actually runs their district like a college, taking donations from alumni with an endowment fund. And even with a median income around $180k, it still has trouble funding merit based pay.
There is also one other catch that Ladue has learned to effective merit pay that taxpayers will not like. Salaries are confidential. The public loses their right to know how much any individual teacher makes, just like in a private organization. Without that, merit pay obviously collapses.
Ladue has a remarkable high SES (only 6% of students eligible for free/reduced lunch) compared to the state average (45%). Many other schools systems of high SES work just as well, if not better, in terms of student achievement, without merit pay and for less money.

So what is the benefit?
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Old 12-15-2011, 04:39 PM
 
11,635 posts, read 20,346,345 times
Reputation: 12158
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkb0714 View Post
Merit pay is a band-aid on a head wound and until we address the real issues facing public education in this country nothing will change. But politicians will use merit pay as a way to keep people from actually addressing those issues.
I agree with ^^this^^!

If merit pay with ties to test scores is adopted nationwide it will be even harder to find inner city teachers than it is now. All kids deserve good teachers and many of the "reforms" currently being considered will not improve schools for the lowest income kids.
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Old 12-15-2011, 04:43 PM
 
16,563 posts, read 13,968,701 times
Reputation: 20517
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momma_bear View Post
I agree with ^^this^^!

If merit pay with ties to test scores is adopted nationwide it will be even harder to find inner city teachers than it is now. All kids deserve good teachers and many of the "reforms" currently being considered will not improve schools for the lowest income kids.
Not to get into a mutual admiration thing but, I agree with this too!!

I teach gifted students, they ace the SAT II in my subject consistently. But even though I am a good teacher, I KNOW many of them would do well on it with even a bad teacher. They are just that awesome. I know that for the majority of students, having a good teacher can help and a bad one can hinder, but the are not as important as all the other factors in a child's life.

So I am not deserving of more money just because I was lucky enough to get the great students, just as another teacher is less deserving of their salary just because they got some kids who are not performing as well as someone thinks they "should".
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Old 12-15-2011, 05:05 PM
 
3,252 posts, read 6,295,050 times
Reputation: 1589
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
Other than difficulty of material taught, I really can't. Some subjects are more difficult and require greater understanding. Good/bad teacher are subjective evaluations. I have one administrator who thinks I'm the best thing since sliced bread and one for whom I can do nothing right. I'm sure my actual performance is somewhere in between but my evaluation depends on which one evaluates me.
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Welcome to the world of private industry. This is how the business world works. No more coddling and hiding behind teachers unions.
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Old 12-15-2011, 05:19 PM
 
Location: Central Florida
973 posts, read 1,483,198 times
Reputation: 1098
Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperSparkle928 View Post
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Welcome to the world of private industry. This is how the business world works. No more coddling and hiding behind teachers unions.
And how exactly??? Curious eyes want to know....
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