Florida Merit Pay?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by hzminda, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. hzminda

    hzminda Rookie

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  3. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Mar 19, 2011

    I do think that better teachers should be given more preferential treatment in the education system, as better employees do in most other sectors. However, there are two problems - first, I'm not sure that simply paying better teachers more is necessarily the right answer, but I'm not absolutely against it. The fundamental problem, though, is how to measure whether a teacher is successful - there is no absolute index or variable that irrefutably demonstrates a teacher's effectiveness. FCAT (state test) scores measure so much more than a teacher's effectiveness, and by themselves should not be used. However, what if there were a measure to show progress throughout the year, and compare that progress against progress from highly similar educational settings (kids/schools with same demographics, resources, etc.). In other words, the more variables you filter out and control for by having "control" groups, the more the target variable can be assessed.

    At the present time, I do think it is possible based on our society's knowledge of research methods to construct an assessment system that would be much more reliable and accurate than the FCAT in terms of measuring teacher performance. However, no such system exists. As a result, at present time I don't think we have the ability to measure teacher performance, so we therefore can't have merit pay.

    I do not, however, think that simply because a teacher works hard that they are entitled to good pay and a stable job. I do believe that job performance should be expected - I just don't think we have developed and implemented the technology to measure job performance, and if/when that happens, I'm not sure that salary adjustments would be the best use of that performance data.

    In my opinion, the real underlying answer here is that Rick Scott should move forward with trying to develop a true performance system that meets the approval of research scientists, the education community, and the public. I'd have no problem with moving in this direction, but as usual in education there is a "goal" (increase in student achievement), a "strategy" (merit pay), and an underlying value (teacher accountability) with no real research linking any of these three things together.

    As educators, I believe we should stop simply arguing against things that aren't good, and start proposing alternative solutions that better address the underlying problem. I do not believe that responding "we are teachers and we already work so hard" is a valid response, not because it isn't true (I believe it is true), but because it doesn't address the underlying concern: the problem is NOT that teachers don't work hard enough.
     
  4. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I know in some areas they are lowering salaries and then adding on merit pay-I think that's a mistake (couldn't tell from the segment if that's the case here). We have had it in our district for years, but it's been more of a "bonus" an addition to our regular salary. I'm not eligible because I teach in early childhood and we don't have a measure at this stage to show growth (resource teachers, specials teachers are in the same boat). But we have very high-stakes testing in 3rd-5th where if they show that growth it's a nice little bonus they can receive (the highest was $11,000 this year)-kind of an extra incentive to teach those grades.

    My other issue with merit pay is putting more pressure on teachers to teach to the test. We already forgo a lot of the "fun" stuff in our classrooms to practice multiple choice-if a teacher's salary depended on those scores, who knows what they would do to get them. If it was based on classroom observations, portfolios, interviews with parents, etc. I think it would be much more authentic a measure.
     
  5. MATgrad

    MATgrad Groupie

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    I'm in Florida and the talk here is not good. I am absolutely floored as to how we are going to pay for this. We are going to be cutting millions from education, laying off people and somehow come up with money to start this? Is the current evaluation system broken? I believe it is. I have watched as mediocre teachers get their PSC and then we're stuck with teachers who do not do their job. I can think of one in particular who only does ANYTHING when it will make that person look good to administration. The fault of that lies with administration.

    However is this the solution? No. We'll have new teachers rated "highly effective." They'll get the bonus money for a couple of years and them BAM! they are too expensive. Since they'll be under one-year contracts, just non-renew and start the process all over again with newer, cheaper teachers.

    There are simply too many variables. My students don't take the FCAT. They take the alternate assessment. I give it to them one-on-one and I have to bubble in their answer choices. There is no one watching me give this test. Just me and the student. What is there to prevent me from cheating? By tying my pay to their performance, I may feel that pressure to just change a few answers. Before anyone freaks out, no I wouldn't change their answers but for the newer teachers that pressure would be there.

    If anyone has ever read "Freakonomics" the first chapter on how sumo wrestlers and teachers are alike is illuminating. Its very similar to Florida. The basic summary is that this will result in gaming the system. People here already complain that we teach too much to the test well get ready that is about upped to a new level because if Joe Q. Public doesn't think that teacher doesn't feel the pressure to feed their family they are living in dream world.
     
  6. dr.gator

    dr.gator Comrade

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    Mar 20, 2011

    The state doesn't have the money to fund this bill. While I agree with your above statement, if we can't even fund the bill, how on earth would Mr. Scott be able to move forward with trying to develop a true performance system that meets the approval of research scientists, the education community, and the public? As of now, Mr. Scott is leaving this up to the individual districts to develop and the funding of the bill will be left up to the individual districts. As I see the implementation (if you want to call it that) of the bill has been done simply because "it is what everyone wants to see/hear", something needs to be done (so the politicians think), and wa la here we go! Please do not take my statements the wrong way. I totally agree and will accept a merit pay system, but if you are going to do it, do it right like you describe. Don't just do it because you want to make a name for yourself and don't just do it without any forthought in doing it.
     
  7. dr.gator

    dr.gator Comrade

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    Mar 20, 2011

    I have heard rumors that principals are being told not to rate teachers highly effective.

    As for the end of the year alternative assessments, exactly how will teachers who give these tests be policed? We all know that these tests will not be standardized/computerized tests or tests like FCAT to start with. They will be end of the year core curriculum basal tests. You are really living in a fairy tale if you think these teachers are not going to be a factor in the testing environment. To me I equate what they'll do to what teachers who give the FCAT do when we say they are "teaching to the test".
     
  8. MATgrad

    MATgrad Groupie

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    The Florida Alternate Assessment is the FCAT for students with significant cognitive disabilities. If they don't take the FCAT they take this instead. Even students who don't talk take this test. I'm wondering if next year there will be someone watching me give this test to my students.

    I've also heard the rumors that principals have been told to not rate teachers highly effective. My district is using a new evaluation system this year rates teachers into four categories. We have to fill-out paperwork to give to our administrators in advance our annual evaluation. I asked my one administrator about it and he just told me do you really think I'm not going to put only good things down about you? HAHA!

    Just where is the money for this going to come from? The legislature refuses to answer that question.
     
  9. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    We have merit pay. It is based not only on test scores but also on evaluations from the mentor and master teachers and the principal. In my building, our mentor, master, and principal are good and honest people- they aren't rating people low just to save money. In other districts I've been to though, I could definitely see that happening. The problem is that there are always budget cuts and they can't afford to "pay for performance" anyway. Last year teachers received only half of what they should have (there is supposed to be a bonus at the end of the year and then a step up for the next year of the same amount, they only received the bonus). This year they are saying that not only will we not get a bonus or a step up, but there will probably be salary cuts. There isn't a whole lot of incentive to perform higher if your salary is getting cut anyway...
    It's also frustrating b/c the district spends a ton of money on the pay for performance system. My building is very small (11 full time teachers) and we have 2 mentors and a master. Mentors get paid 7,000 more and masters get paid about 15,000 more. As you can imagine, larger buildings have many more mentor teachers. So the district is spending all this money on implementing a "pay for performance" system yet no one is actually getting paid for their performance! They've also said that in the budget cuts this year they will absolutely not consider getting rid of this system because they worked too hard to implement it. Instead we're cutting teachers, slashing salaries and benefits, and getting rid of specials. That just seems ridiculous to me!
     
  10. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Mar 20, 2011

    "If budget constraints in any given year limit a district school board’s ability to fully fund all adopted salary schedules, the performance salary schedule shall not be reduced on the basis of total cost or the value of individual awards in a manner that is proportionally greater than reductions to any other salary schedules adopted by the district." - from SB 736

    So basically: We'll work our butts off to make sure we're rate effective or highly effective so that we aren't fired but can't expect that we will *actually* receive said merit pay.
     
  11. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I definitely see your point here. I guess I probably wouldn't expect Rick Scott to do this, but either the federal government, a university, research group, or otherwise with private foundation funding.

    I also agree that the merit pay system is probably more of a political move in this case than a real attempt to fix education.
     
  12. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Agreed.
     
  13. ACardAttack

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    Mar 21, 2011

    No way could it ever be student result based
    1)You can drag a horse to water, but you cant make it drink
    2) Some kids might not prepare for big state tests
    3) what about the teachers with all honors classes?
    4) if it was grade based in classroom, teachers either consciously or subconsciously would inflate grades

    Had a kid last week ask why teachers' jobs are at risk when we (the teaches) cannot force them (the students) to actually try on a test
     
  14. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Mar 21, 2011

    This year our children have to go to school for 4 straight months since Christmas. All that time has been spent drilling for the test and taking all sorts of practice tests. We have just found out that now, at the same time as the state tests, we have to administer 5th grade end of course tests for special areas, k-5 end of year math tests, K-5 end of year reading tests, 3rd grade end of year reading tests, K-5 district writing tests, K-5 science tests, and more that I can't remember. Talk about burn-out. My class learned about this schedule today and wanted to know why they should bother...since all they do in school anymore is test. Based on their disheartened attitudes today, I think I would be required to pay back part of my salary instead of earning merit pay!!
     
  15. MATgrad

    MATgrad Groupie

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    We already have three ESE teachers at my school that have asked to be moved out of ESE next because of this merit pay debacle. Nobody can answer my question: How much growth will students on the Alternate Assessment be required to show?
     
  16. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Mar 22, 2011

    I think parent opinions are also something that should be considered, possibly in some grander, "basket" of different measurements. Obviously, this is not without it's own set of issues, but I think that is an aspect of evaluation that is not really considered, but can bring another perspective to the whole process (along with admin evaluation, and test scores, which I would say are least worthwhile) that would add a better balance.

    I think of how we have reviews on the internet, for basically anything you can imagine (e.g. amazon). I use these all the time BTW, and it's VERY helpful to me in analyzing a product's worth. As I go through, I can tell which ones are on point... and I can tell which ones seem to have an ax to grind or other agenda. Sure, some may prove misleading, or false, but after a while... I think one can get a sense of a teacher's effectiveness. And that, coupled with other measures, could help determine how effective a teacher could be.
     
  17. time out

    time out Comrade

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    The biggest problem I have with this solution is that the assessment process is flawed. I teach first grade and our students are required to take the SAT 10. But there are like five topics that are no longer in our benchmarks like time, money, fractions, etc and yet, our performance is based on the performance of our students on this ridiculous test. I get that they want to see how our kids fare against other kids nationally but why are they making it count in our evaluation? Either change our benchmarks or change the assessment to one that matches what we're actually teaching!
     
  18. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    Mar 22, 2011

    I'm all for merit pay but there has to be a way to really measure effectively teacher's performance and also measure the difficulty of a classroom. For example, if a teacher gets a classroom with several students who have behavior problems then the teacher should be given credit or some sort of extra reward for handling a difficult class.

    I would also based ratings on gains made vs. once a year standard testing.
     
  19. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    Mar 22, 2011

    I'm all for merit pay. I know most think it's impossible ..... but surely there is a way to give the best teachers the most money..... the middle of the road teachers raises based of "steps" (what ever that is ... sounds like average and bureaucratic to me)... and fire the teachers who under perform........

    There are sooooo many teachers underpaid........ and there are some who should be released to seek other employment.....
     
  20. Kindergarten31

    Kindergarten31 Cohort

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    Mar 23, 2011

    In a letter to the editor, in our local paper, someone suggested we begin paying our politicians thru a merit pay system. I am not sure Rick Scott would like that. He tossed out the first pitch at a spring training game and he was LOUDLY booed!
     
  21. MATgrad

    MATgrad Groupie

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