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And on the Other Side: Merit Pay for Teachers

I marked this story a couple of days ago. In my view, merit pay is such an obvious idea, not to mention merit hiring, merit promotion, and lack-of-merit firing, that I don’t see why it would be controversial, except, of course, amongst those who lack merit.

But there is one valid area of controversy–measuring merit. Whatever you tie merit to will be what teachers must strive for. If that’s graduation, you’ll get one result. If that’s success in college, you’ll get another. If it’s standardized tests, then you’re going to get people taught to pass the standardized tests.

But in my view the value of paying people by merit is so important that we need to work through the controversy of how to measure it. That pay should be by merit should be firmly fixed. Then we should find a mix of standards by which to measure such merit.

I’m personally not all that excited about standardized tests, but they do provide something that is less subject to manipulation. With a longer view, one could use measures of success after students leave school.

I must leave one caveat–I don’t trust the school board around here all that much, so I’m not sure that they would be paying for merit. I’m not sure they’d recognize it. Hmmm! Maybe we should do some “lack-of-merit” firing on school boards.

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  1. Merit pay is a good idea. Judging merit based on standardized test scores is a BAD idea.

    I really think it’s wiser to figure out how you’re going to determine merit FIRST, and THEN start paying based on merit. I guess the other way ’round can work… but I may go get a job somewhere else while they work out the kinks.

    1. I tend to agree with you. I was reacting to the opposition to the concept. I don’t like standardized tests in most contexts.

      So perhaps I should back off just a bit!

      1. *grin* I think there’s something to pursue. Too often, teachers and teachers’ unions have a knee-jerk reaction of NO NO BAD! to the idea of merit pay. It’s hard to have an honest conversation.

        I also think that as we DO HAVE procedures in place to reward good teachers and remove bad ones, we need to make better use of them.

  2. I’m coming late to this, but unless one can control the inputs any merit pay based on outputs will be worse than useless.

    1. Yes. I read the comment from Clix in more or less the same light and you are both right. I am very focused on pay going with merit, but this particular bill seems to tie pay to something that is incorrectly called merit. So while I’d stand by what I said–in another context–I should not have attached it to this particular bill.

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