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Old 01-23-2011, 10:51 AM
 
Location: Virginia
18,717 posts, read 26,792,420 times
Reputation: 42860

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Governor McDonnell announced his K-12 legislative initiatives on January 18. One is to provide scholarships for low-income students, but the more controversial one is to fund a merit pay program for teachers.

I know quite a few people on this forum are involved in education and know more about this issue than I do. What do you think? Is merit pay a good idea for Nova teachers? What are the pros and cons?

Governor pushes school choice, merit pay for teachers | LoudounTimes.com
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Old 01-23-2011, 11:15 AM
 
Location: Virginia
8,106 posts, read 12,623,356 times
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The problem with merit pay is what do you base it on? Test scores? The students at my grade level passed two SOLs last year at a 95% passing rate and another at 99%. Another grade level had 100% pass the reading SOL. Sure, we work hard, but I bet we could "cruise" the rest of the school year and students would still score high. Why? Because they care and their parents care. It is a "good school" because of the teachers and the community. A teacher in another school might be the greatest teacher and is working her butt off, but the students will not score as high as mine. Does she not get the merit pay because the percentage of students passing is not as high? I know some could say we should base the merit pay on increases in student acheivement from one year to the next, but then that might not be fair either. It's not so easy to increase passing rates when you are already at 95-100%.
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Old 01-23-2011, 11:27 AM
 
696 posts, read 1,494,071 times
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Not surprising that the Commonwealth wants to move in this direction. FFX County is already "checking up" on teachers as they do their online assessments. Maybe they should give merit pay to those parents that actually do their job. My job as an educator is so much easier when there is cooperation and participation from parents. Those are the kids that consistently pass the tests.
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Old 01-23-2011, 11:58 AM
 
Location: Home is where the heart is
15,400 posts, read 25,754,405 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgbwc View Post
The problem with merit pay is what do you base it on? Test scores?
Good point. That would be like basing a weatherman's pay on whether or not the sun shined.
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Old 01-23-2011, 12:57 PM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
4,489 posts, read 9,539,474 times
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I'm student teaching in a FFX County middle school right now. It's been eye opening, to say the least, when I see what these teachers do.

A half dozen teachers spent their Saturday at the local library with an open invitation to all their students to come get homework help, study for their test, finish up work before the quarter ends, etc. They get no pay for that. They stay after school for several hours helping kids do their homework, reviewing material with kids who scored poorly on their exams, or giving kids a safe place to study. They bring food to school to feed the kids who didn't get breakfast at home and are struggling to stay focused by 10:00.

I've seen kids come in who have had 3 hours of sleep the night before because they were running around with older brother's gang, kids who are living in foster care because they had abusive parents, and a kid who stole money from another because he admitted he didn't know where he was going to eat dinner that night if he didn't get money somewhere that day.

These kids are 11 or 12 years old. It is amazing what they have accomplished seeing everything on their plates.

The teachers at this school put in hours upon hours of blood, sweat, and tears into these children, and they'll still score poorly in comparison to kids in McLean or Langley--because those kids have parents who can/will pay for private tutors, who are home, who help with homework, etc. Economics is far and away the #1 determinant of scholarly success.

Knowing that, is it really fair to compare teachers across schools the same way? Or even within a school? Every student and every class is different. Who is going to volunteer to teach in the rough schools where the odds are stacked against the kids succeeding if teachers know their job/pay/ratings are based on the kids test scores?

Finally, when there is a problem child on campus, whose class is that kid assigned to? Generally, the "best" teacher in the eyes of administration. The one with the most experience and best track record dealing with similar kids. It makes sense to try to give struggling teachers an easier distribution of kids while they get their feet on the ground. That means that your "reward" for being a good teacher is getting tougher and tougher kids. Which means your test scores are likely to go down. How does that makes sense?

If you want to pay teachers more for going through the steps that should, on paper, make you a better teacher, fine. Pay them for attending extra training classes. Pay them for implementing a behavior management approach. Pay them for getting another degree. But paying them for performance, as if it is a business, does not make sense. Bosses can fire incompetent employees. Teachers cannot fire struggling students.
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Old 01-23-2011, 03:16 PM
 
Location: Home is where the heart is
15,400 posts, read 25,754,405 times
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Maybe I'm just a little suspicious, but "merit pay" sounds like code for coming up with reasons why we don't need to keep giving raises.

We put a high value on education in Nova, and we should pay our teachers accordingly. Teachers are important, and deserve to make a decent living.
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Old 01-23-2011, 03:19 PM
 
1,759 posts, read 1,747,336 times
Reputation: 946
Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliTerp07 View Post
I'm student teaching in a FFX County middle school right now. It's been eye opening, to say the least, when I see what these teachers do.

A half dozen teachers spent their Saturday at the local library with an open invitation to all their students to come get homework help, study for their test, finish up work before the quarter ends, etc. They get no pay for that. They stay after school for several hours helping kids do their homework, reviewing material with kids who scored poorly on their exams, or giving kids a safe place to study. They bring food to school to feed the kids who didn't get breakfast at home and are struggling to stay focused by 10:00.

I've seen kids come in who have had 3 hours of sleep the night before because they were running around with older brother's gang, kids who are living in foster care because they had abusive parents, and a kid who stole money from another because he admitted he didn't know where he was going to eat dinner that night if he didn't get money somewhere that day.

These kids are 11 or 12 years old. It is amazing what they have accomplished seeing everything on their plates.

The teachers at this school put in hours upon hours of blood, sweat, and tears into these children, and they'll still score poorly in comparison to kids in McLean or Langley--because those kids have parents who can/will pay for private tutors, who are home, who help with homework, etc. Economics is far and away the #1 determinant of scholarly success.

Knowing that, is it really fair to compare teachers across schools the same way? Or even within a school? Every student and every class is different. Who is going to volunteer to teach in the rough schools where the odds are stacked against the kids succeeding if teachers know their job/pay/ratings are based on the kids test scores?

Finally, when there is a problem child on campus, whose class is that kid assigned to? Generally, the "best" teacher in the eyes of administration. The one with the most experience and best track record dealing with similar kids. It makes sense to try to give struggling teachers an easier distribution of kids while they get their feet on the ground. That means that your "reward" for being a good teacher is getting tougher and tougher kids. Which means your test scores are likely to go down. How does that makes sense?

If you want to pay teachers more for going through the steps that should, on paper, make you a better teacher, fine. Pay them for attending extra training classes. Pay them for implementing a behavior management approach. Pay them for getting another degree. But paying them for performance, as if it is a business, does not make sense. Bosses can fire incompetent employees. Teachers cannot fire struggling students.
I'm a former teacher. I can't thank you enough for the truth and time you put into this post.
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Old 01-23-2011, 03:28 PM
 
646 posts, read 883,322 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by normie View Post
Maybe I'm just a little suspicious, but "merit pay" sounds like code for coming up with reasons why we don't need to keep giving raises.

We put a high value on education in Nova, and we should pay our teachers accordingly. Teachers are important, and deserve to make a decent living.

Teachers DO make a decent living. They have SUPERIOR benefits and defined pensions -- and their pay is based on a 10 month year. I am not demeaning teachers in the least -- I just get tired of hearing how they are so terribly underpaid. Everywhere I look, the people who retire at age 55 with solid defined pensions are teachers and PUBLIC employees. Try saving for your retirement with a 401K -- no benefits.
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Old 01-23-2011, 03:40 PM
 
Location: Virginia
8,106 posts, read 12,623,356 times
Reputation: 3755
Quote:
Originally Posted by CaliTerp07 View Post
I'm student teaching in a FFX County middle school right now. It's been eye opening, to say the least, when I see what these teachers do.

A half dozen teachers spent their Saturday at the local library with an open invitation to all their students to come get homework help, study for their test, finish up work before the quarter ends, etc. They get no pay for that. They stay after school for several hours helping kids do their homework, reviewing material with kids who scored poorly on their exams, or giving kids a safe place to study. They bring food to school to feed the kids who didn't get breakfast at home and are struggling to stay focused by 10:00.
This has been highlighted somewhat in the news lately:

http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/education/2011/01/fairfax-county-teachers-ready-quit-under-heavy-workload

http://www.myfoxdc.com/dpp/mornings/teachers-threaten-to-stop-working-overtime-010711

http://www.tbd.com/articles/2011/01/-overwhelmed-teachers-address-fairfax-county-school-board-43554.html

http://fallschurch.patch.com/articles/teachers-say-theyre-overworked-2

http://forthunt.patch.com/articles/unions-say-county-teachers-are-overworked


In this article, SB member Tessie Wilson has a quote that has been making the rounds in the schools and resonating with staff:
http://wtop.com/?sid=2224087&nid=25
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Old 01-23-2011, 04:40 PM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
4,489 posts, read 9,539,474 times
Reputation: 3656
Those articles make me sad..."Teachers claim they're overworked and have less face time with students, so we're giving them a 2% raise". That doesn't address the problem, it just stops the complaining for the summer. Next year, teachers will still be overworked and have less face time with the students.
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