Monday, July 04, 2005

Teachers want $40K/year to start. I want merit pay. Let's see if we can work something out.

I made a point on Fark about merit pay for teachers, which someone took issue with (or perhaps I should write that as "with which someone took issue" to prevent ending it with a preposition). This person asked me to enlighten everyone on how I would do so. Here is my response:

I'm glad you asked. See, I'm not an educator, so I don't know every measurable quality necessary for being a meritorious teacher, but I know for a fact that other occupations are able to come up with ways of deciding who is earning their money and who is filling space. If a teacher has the ability to determine which students in his or her class merits an "A" and which ones deserve an "F," wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that school administrators should have the ability to determine which teachers encourage their students to excel and which do not?

Presumably, there are expert educators out there who would be able to put together a set of reasonable, unbiased, and measurable criteria to judge teachers by. Using such criteria, even if imperfect, would be better than not holding anyone accountable for the success or failure of their teaching methods.

Sure, it may be difficult, but if they can determine excellence -- albeit crudely -- in something as hard to pin down as acting (Oscars) and writing (everything from Hugo's to Nobel Prizes), why wouldn't they be able to do it in teaching? Your question almost makes it sound like there is no way to measure success in teaching, which if true means there is no possible way to determine if any teacher is earning his or her pay.


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