Merit Pay - what do you think?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by ku_alum, Mar 6, 2010.

  1. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Thoughts on merit pay?

    THOUGHT #1: I have no issue with my raise being determined by my effectiveness in the classroom. However, if the only measure of my effectiveness is how students do on a high stakes test, I have a problem with that.

    THOUGHT #2: Currently, all high stakes testing happens to sophomores ... I see only juniors and seniors ...

    THOUGHT #3: If testing is a measurement, what about the pay of all those teachers that do not have testing going on? P.E, FACS, Wood Tech?
     
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  3. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Thought 1: Teachers should be judged on the effectiveness of their practices.

    Thought 2: To do this, the education establishment needs to define effective educational practices.

    Thought 3: There will be resistance to this by those who insist that they have their own particular style of teaching that can't be judged by these standards.

    Thought 4: There will be resistance to ANY set of standards.

    Thought 5: One reason Asian countries may do better is because they are willing to adopt standards. And abandon old standards for ones that work better.
     
  4. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

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    True, but also from what I gathered after attending a day long conference regarding the differences between eastern education and western education, is that the culture of the students and families in Asian countries is FAR different than ours. In countries like Taiwan and S. Korea, there is a HUGE drive to succeed and an ENORMOUS respect for hard work and effort in order to acheive good grades. That mentality alone puts them so many steps ahead of us. After leaving the conference, I truly felt that was the primary difference between their success and us not being able to compete with that.

    Moving on....

    Thought #1 Regarding Merit Pay: A teacher's success shouldn't be deteremined by just one source (a single standardized test, for example). Because there are so many factors that effect our day, I think the best way is by having someone frequently observe one teaching. By being in the room and watching how the lessons are implemented, you can see if they are doing a good job or not. This is time consuming and would require more than one visit obviously ... but there are too many things to consider.

    Thought #2: Merit Pay would have to be on a scale of some sorts to take into consideration the different schools one could teach in. A rich homogeneous suburban school, where the kids are already showing good test scores, would be quite different from an inner city school that teaches high poverty and limited English students. If it's harder, you should start higher.

    The risk is that all the good teachers would abandon the difficult schools to teach at the easy schools.... which means the kids who need the most help get stuck with the less experienced teachers. Who would want to teach at a school where there are so many challenges if it would effect your pay? You would work where you would see the most success... so there would be a mass movement to the rich suburbs.
     
  5. Bonnie gr. 2

    Bonnie gr. 2 Companion

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    Looking at scores, I'd owe money this year!

    If you looked at scores, I would probably owe money this year. I have 27 kids, several of them have ADD/ADHD without being labeled. One mom said the doctor told her that her son has it but doesn't want to do anything about it. She is changing doctors. My principal says that we can't do anything about it. There are several with unstable home lives, another thing that I can't control. Several are bilingual, without English support at home. (I have had succesful bilingual students in the past. This year, one of my students writes spelling sentences like, "I don't know what spelling word mean, even after we discuss the word in class.). I would like to have a few of the kids tested but the principal keeps showing me the pile of folders of kids ahead of them. I have a BSI teacher come in a couple of periods a week. Most of the time, she just walks around to try keep the kids focused. I work hard, try a variety of things to reteach what they aren't getting, but many of these kids don't really care. They were like this in kindergarten and first grades, too. So if my pay is tied to their performance, I am sunk.
     
  6. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    We've had it in our district for several years now. Grades 1st-5th are judged based on a complicated formula. They take the students' test scores from the year prior and measure the growth in the year you have taught them. When comparing schools, you are compared within a bracket based on similar demographics. Specials teachers, resource and early childhood are ineligible for their own classes, but can get a little something if the whole school shows progress.

    That being said, the only thing I don't like is the pressure put on teachers and the tendency to "teach to the test" more, because if they do better on the test this year, then I get money. Who cares if they learn it deeply enough to retain it or about subjects not tested in my grade level. Being a GT teacher, I also don't like the concentration on helping the struggling students, instead of all students.
     
  7. mom2ohc

    mom2ohc Habitué

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    http://blog.nj.com/njv_guest_blog/2010/02/teacher_of_the_year_merit_pay.html

    There was a great article abotu merit pay in the Star Ledger last weekend, I so agreed with all of her points!

     
  8. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    I am against merit pay.

    773 miles
    Exactly! I am sick of the comparisons between the US and Asia's education system. It's a totally different culture and world.
     
  9. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    No way! I teach in an area where a lot of the kids are in survival mode. It is very hard for some kids to focus on learning when they have other things on their minds. Some kids don't get 3 meals a day. Some students only eat at school.

    My students have improved a lot, but I doubt the people who determine success would agree with my view of success. We have fabulous days, but we have very tough days.

    I think some teachers should get bonuses like in the business world, but that should be on top of our base salaries.
     
  10. newbie87

    newbie87 Comrade

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    I'm against merit pay. Let's say you have outstanding students with great test scores and who are ahead of their grade level. How much of that really has to do with their current teacher? A lot of their achievement has to do with past teachers and parents. So, let's say you're a third grade teacher with this type of students. Technically, should your merit pay also go to their second, first, kinder,prek teacher for getting them to where they are before they even reach your classroom? I think it's a slippery slope when a teacher is thought to be the sole reason a student is passing/failing and ahead/behind. Just if your student is not where they're supposed to be for their grade level. Who's to blame? You? The teachers they had before they reached your class?
     
  11. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    Newbie, my thoughts exactly. I have a few students on the k-2 grade reading level. I have been scrutinized because I haven't been able to get them up to grade level. How on earth am I responsible for this? One of the parents hangs up on me, never signs anything I send home, and doesn't read to her son. The kid is totally lost and I can barely help him. I would love to see the day when parents are held accountable. They are barely held accountable for sending their child to school!
     
  12. Toak

    Toak Cohort

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    In addition, its well known that the reason asians are faster in math, is because their number names facilitate easy mental math. Where as, in English, the names are longer and don't follow a set pattern which makes mental math more difficult (ie: 10, 11, 12, 13)
     
  13. momx3

    momx3 Rookie

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    I have a lot to say about this area. The admin at my school have consistnatly placed those who are the lowest readers, all the ESL students, all 504 students and 95% of SPD identified studetns in my class. Of course, my TAKS testing rate is lower than that of my fellow teacher of the same grade. I love working with my students and do not mind the split except if I am going to be compared to other teachers for merit instead of the work that I have done. Many of the students I have were placed in 5th grade not promoted, yet they will pass this year and will have achieved tremendous growth. But that does not mean that I will have total success.
     
  14. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Being Asian, and having worked/lived in East Asia for around 10 years, I think the cultural explanation for educational attainment is a bit overstated. Much of the drive for educational success has a lot to do with the educational SYSTEMS in place in many of these countries and the role they play in social and economic stratification.

    Most of the educational systems in many Asian countries will base your advancement to the next level on comprehensive entrance examinations. Thus, there is enormous pressure on students and their families to pass and excel in these examinations, especially for university entrance.

    University entrance is extremely competitive in most of these countries, only a few can be accepted for enrollment based on an entrance exam. Entrance to a university then becomes a ticket to getting into the upper elite echelon, in terms of employment and social circles, to a greater extent than it is in the United States. It is more a sorting device for social stratification than for academic attainment. When you join a major university in an Asian country - such as Waseda and Tokyo U. in Japan, Seoul National in S. Korea, National Taiwan University in Taiwan, it is a ticket to not only employment but their old-boy networks as well.

    So granted, the people who are university educated in these Asian countries are the cream of the crop, they are capable and smart. However, I can't help but think that the examination-based system tends to encourage the development of people who can do well on exams but may not necessarily foster creativity.
     
  15. midwestteacher

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    I teach an elective which doesn't have standardized testing. In addition, the students in my classes vary greatly in their abilities. In one class, I have the number one kid in the class and two kids that can hardly read. How would that compare to the teacher that teaches AP calculus?
     
  16. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Are they? I happen to be Asian and math was definitely NOT my strongest subject - I had to put in 50% more time and effort to get about 75% of the results that I could do in Social Studies and English. Granted, I grew up in the US but I spoke my mother tongue before I learned English. Knowing numbers in my mother tongue which does follow a more logical pattern than perhaps English doesn't really help me be faster in math than other folks.

    Besides, there are Asian languages that also have some irregularities in numerology, such as Japanese. "Twenty" can be pronounced as "ni-ju" (which is the logical pattern) or "hatachi" (which refers to a person's chronological age).
     
  17. treysmom

    treysmom Comrade

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    I live in a very rural area with no public preschool. In other words, I end up teaching preschool, kindergarten and first grade (since kindergarten no longer exists). My thinking is it would only be fair if we were all put on a level playing field first, which would be virtually impossible. We've all had the "rainbow years" and we've all had the room of rock dwellers. My sweet little child who has never been away from home might come a long way (for her) but is in no way on the same level as some of the ones who have had advantages. Sadly, I would not be able to be judged on how far my little one progressed because, chances are she will not do well on the test. Now, if you are judging me on the amount each one of my students progressed-on the actual skills they mastered in my room-from the time they enter until they leave........
     
  18. atomic

    atomic Companion

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    Its not fair. There's no way to make it fair, so it won't work.
     
  19. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Can you define "fair"?
     
  20. atomic

    atomic Companion

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    Of course.

    They only want to use it for the math department. That's not fair.

    They want to tie it to the 11th grade teachers and not the 10th. That's not fair.

    They want to judge the "product" that we are putting out, but we don't have control over the students entire day. That's not fair.

    It is not fair to tie my pay to the students effort.

    If they pay me more for dealing with the lowest level, highest discipline problem students, then that would be fair to me.
     
  21. atomic

    atomic Companion

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    Give me students that sleep 8 hours a day, eat three square meals, have all the supplies they need, and a loving nurturing home life. Then you can judge my teaching from a students performance.

    It's just nuts to think my pay will be determined by the students I teach.
     
  22. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

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    I think the circumstances that surround most classrooms make it impractical. As many have stated, a lot of students have things like where they're going to sleep tonight on their mind, and that does seem to take priority over what a pronoun is. In my school, the kids that actually attend school for the whole year show progress. The students who come in halfway through the 3rd quarter, or come to class once a week, not so much.

    Also, kids are smart. If they hate their teacher, they will bomb the test. Do we really want kids running the schools?
     
  23. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Logically, by this method...

    dentists should be ranked not by how many patients they see, but by how well their patients take care of their own mouths. You live in an area where the parents can't/don't afford to buy adequate toothpaste and toothbrushes, or where all they have available is soda, too bad? Logically, you're a good dentist if your patients don't have cavities.

    I can see the appeal of merit pay. I really can... but the impracticalities really outnumber the practical components.

    Now, let's compare child A to child A over the course of a year, then we'll talk.
     
  24. Rebecca1122

    Rebecca1122 Comrade

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    Now this, I can see being more logical. If you compare the child's progress from beginning of the year to end, and then do teacher evaluations based off that. I would think it would be more clear if a teacher was putting in effort and being effective if you look at each child individually and see what progress they have made, instead of the class as a whole. I still am not sure if it should be connected to pay though....hmmm.
     
  25. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Number 1) C
    Number 2) D
    Number 3) A

    Don't think it won't go on. This discussion was held in the lounge not long ago and the sorriest teacher on campus said this is exactly what she would do!
     
  26. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Huh? I am missing what you are saying here. Can you explain?
     
  27. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    A teaching calling out answers.
     
  28. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    I guess I don't see anything wrong with having a HUGE drive to succeed and an ENORMOUS respect for hard work and effort in order to achieve good grades.........:confused:

    IMHO.......... these are the attributes of successful people...... Why can't we do that here in the USA?
     
  29. PowerTeacher

    PowerTeacher Comrade

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    Among the problems with doing that here- 1) teachers in those other cultures are treated with great respect, and recognized as professionals; 2) parental influence on the politics of schools is nearly non-existant, unlike here.

    In the cultures mentioned no parent would even consider taking the word of a 12 year old in trouble over that of a professional adult. Here that is not the case.

    I have seen merit pay schemes tried in several places. They always start out fine, and then politics and favoritism replace the standards, and the whole thing becomes a demoralizing mess.

    I heartily agree with several posters who point out that school is not a business, and it is a terrible idea to treat them as such.
     
  30. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

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    I never said we shouldn't have a huge drive to succeed and an emormous respect for hard work. We should, but my district has students that are just the opposite.

    I wish we could just flip a switch and suddenly students work harder, care more, and never give up... we're talking sweat pouring from their brows over challenging work and still not getting discouraged. If my teaching career doesn't work out, I certainly have plenty of practice in motivational speaking... but even still... my kids are not motivated.

    We should do that here in the US... that's my point... but for many reasons, we don't have many students with that desirable mentality.
     
  31. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    I'm afraid that switch doesn't exist 773..:(

    As for motivational speaking....... your might want to try it. It's a very lucrative field....:)

    In the private sector "managers" make the call on merit pay or promotions. Why can't principals do the same?
     
  32. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    We aren't even allowed to have any kinds of foods in our rooms because apparently someone was holding up a red m&m for a, blue for B, etc. What a great example for the kids, huh? My kids would probably be yelling out "what's B for again?".

    The only problem with comparing a child's performance from one year to the next (which is what we do here) is most places don't test with the same format of test in the all grades. For example we take TAKS in 3rd-5th. To compare my kids, they would have to take a standardized test in Pre-K. Which will probably be coming soon. It also gets confusing in Elementary with teachers who are departmentalized. Not to mention it still doesn't do anything for resource or specials teachers.
     
  33. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    I went to a get together with a group of people that I went to elementary school with and one of the people in the group said why should teachers be "rewarded" with the current system. But that they should be paid by how well they do....I was trying hard not to listen because I was getting mad. I get irritated by people who have never been in a classroom, justify how teachers should be paid...in their opinions of course.
     
  34. Grover

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    The 'success' of many Asian countries educational systems is based on their willingness to let lots of students fail. This is not just about motivation, it's about taking people out of the system who don't have a knack for it.
    As for merit pay, there really is no rational and fair way to do it. Even looking at the progress of each child in a class over the course of the year is seriously flawed: the learning rates of individual children vary in different periods of their development, and any give class has a range of ages up to a year- quite a spread in first grade. Children with lower IQ or certain developmental issues or learning disabilities are likely to make less progress than higher IQ peers, or those without these issues. Children's learning is impacted by events at home, changing schools, social issues at school- all things a teacher cannot control.
    Introducing merit pay will be an incentive to game the system one way or another, as well as discouraging teachers from working in problem areas.
     
  35. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I'm confused...can you offer some more info on this? Thanks
     
  36. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Exactly. It's basically a weed-out system.

    Also, you'll find fewer programs if any to educate students with special needs.
     
  37. taryn_liz

    taryn_liz Rookie

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    Against it, simply because I don't want my kids to determine how much I get paid. I have some high students, but I also have a student with a 74 IQ, one who is ADHD and mom gives him his medicine when she remembers to, who also this year was homeless for awhile, and another ADHD child who mom doesn't want to medicate at all. These kids are not going to score well on a test, and aren't going to show as much progress through the year...would you want them to determine how much you got paid?
     
  38. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    I have no issue with being held accountable for my performance, but I do have a problem with being held accountable for someone else's performance.

    I have a student this year who will not do anything. (unless you count get in trouble often) He is a 15 year old 7th grader. He's been retained. He still makes F's. Nothing anybody has done for him in all his years of schooling has made a difference, and it's not been for lack of trying. He's being raised by grandma, who is lucky to be able to take care of herself. Parents aren't in the picture at all, and the kid is pretty much on his own. He has no accountability. His parents (guardian) has no accountability. The school and teachers have all the accountability. Until he and his parents have some, I've got a problem being held accountable.
     
  39. mathematics

    mathematics Rookie

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    We have recently approved a contract that awards merit pay on a school wide basis:

    Add NEW Art. XII Sec. __
    Contingent upon the availability of funding, the parties
    agree to the establishment in the 2010-2011 school year
    of a Value Added Compensation Program to provide
    additional compensation to bargaining unit members
    in those schools which have experienced the highest level
    of student growth as measured against established student
    growth indices.

    Beginning in the 2011-12 school year, additional
    compensation will be allocated annually to 25% of the
    highest performing High Needs Schools and the 10%
    of the highest performing non-High Needs Schools as
    measured against this index. The amount of compensation
    to be distributed annually will be based upon availability
    of funds per school.

    I feel that this type of merit pay will lead to rampant falsification of test scores.
     
  40. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    :clap:
    I couldn't agree more. I don't mind being held accountable. I do mind being paid by the performance of my students. As the saying goes-you can lead the horse to water, but you can't make it drink.
    Until students AND parents are held to the same accountability, then merit pay is unfair.
     
  41. mrsf70

    mrsf70 Companion

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    Mar 21, 2010

    My thoughts exactly.
     

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