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Readers Respond: Should Teacher Salaries Be Tied to Student Test Scores?

Responses: 25

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The issue of merit pay for teacher salaries is a hot topic that can sometimes turn into a sensitive issue. What do you think? Should teachers' salaries be tied to the quantified performance of his or her students? Should test scores determine the pay that a teacher deserves?

Salary Must Be Linked To Performance

I strongly feel that teachers' salary must be linked to Students' performance. You can't put all teachers in the same category. Grades may be same but increments may be decided on performance. It will motivate the teachers to do well. Moreover it will encourage non-performing as well as less performing teachers to work hard more with the students to improve their performance.
—Guest YES !!

Educational system is not the problem

Did teachers outsource jobs to lower the prices on goods so we can over consume? Did teachers then provide shady loans to those ex workers whose jobs went over seas? No, America is in the situation we are in because of the same thing that made it great in the 60s...greed. I have worked in urban schools, and the problem here is that, in truth, this is not the land of opportunity anyone rich enough to buy a computer says it is. These students belong to totally different cultures and have no motivation to try because they know that their future has already been decided. I am a great teacher and am not afraid of merit pay (it would be nice to have my 60 hour weeks noticed), but I know that the only thing it will do is take the few dedicated teachers out of urban areas. Anyone who values test scores doesn't care about the interests of the students, because a standardized test is an assessment of how well a teacher cratered to the material, not if they prepared students to be productive citizens.
—Guest A young teacher

testing in what subjects?

I am not actually opposed to merit pay, but would someone PLEASE explain how merit pay works for Art, Music, PE and Computer teachers? The Ohio Achievement Assessment is not standardized, so does that mean we'll have to go back to the CAT or Iowa? If this is so, then we'll have to re-evaluate our curriculum for the third time in the last 9 years. I have serious issue with part of my pay coming at the whims of students. I had a student last year that openly stated she had blown off the tests from the previous year because she was hoping her teachers would get into trouble. My pay wasn't even tied to her score and I was nervous in the days leading up to the test hoping she wouldn't get mad at me. My fears came true when I glanced at her answer booklet and saw she made a lovely pattern with her answers. When I looked up from the booklet, she was smirking at me. Yeah, base my pay on that!
—jsxtn

"a mile in their shoes. . ."

This is not meant to be sarcastic, humorous, or defensive. . . but the only truly legitimate opinions about what it takes to be a teacher come from those who have had the experience of being in a classroom. Period. Please, think about you say.
—Guest Patrick

Who Decides?

The teachers are only as good as the expectations of their leader. If the leader (i.e. the principal), does not require that the teachers do their lesson plans and/or does not communicate with the teachers his/her expectations, then how is performance judged? What about merit pay at the top level? Why do we assume that all principals, assistant principals, administration in general are worthy of merit pay? In some instances, the teachers should be able to voice their opinions of their leaders without feeling that they would be fired because of insubordination. I teach with a person who is dirty, unorganized, steals from the district, and has even done home laundry at school. This person is a friend of the principal - will this person ever get fired? Probably not!!! My big problem with merit pay is not whether it will work, but who will be the judge? Will the criteria for merit pay be universal for all teachers?
—Guest montee

It's not appropriate

We rely too much on standardized test scores already. Let's not add teacher pay to the list. Teachers are not producing widgets in a factory. They take a diverse set of students, with various aptitudes and attitudes and use every creative tool in their box to elicit learning. The great teachers should get medals and bonuses, but not based on test scores of their students.
—Guest John Kern

"Leave No Good Teacher Behind"

The so called "Teacher Merit Pay" does NOT truly measure the blood and guts work that I do for the special needs children I work with every day. My students have severe learning disabilities...but are required, by law, to take the state test...FCAT. Yet, in Florida, our new Governor - Rick Scott and his veto proof legislature will consider me to be a "Bad Teacher"....all due to the fact that my students will not perform well on the state test. I would like to challenge any of our state legislators to visit my classroom. One of my students had been raped by his Uncle when he was only two years old....he is 8 years old now and just beginning to speak. Another student was born to a crack addicted mother and will never have a "normal" life....and yet I work and work...skipping lunch, staying late to complete state required paperwork and completing the staffing requirements that each of my many students require. How dare you base my already low salary on my dear students TEST scores?
—Guest Caring Teacher

Merit Pay.....Really??????????

How about merit pay for the very same legislators who are holding this scheme up to be the panacea resolution to what ails our public education systems?
—Guest Chuck

Firm negation.

I am currently a US high school student. Everywhere you look, you see kids talking to their friends and doodling love notes in their notebooks instead of listening to the valuable and extremely helpful lesson the teacher is giving only a few feet away. Teachers can't make us learn - we choose to; and, if their pay was to be based on how well we would do in class, it would be uncredibly unfair to the teacher who taught us what we needed to know for our tests. We choose to listen, they can't do anything about our free will with that. US schools might not be the best in the world, I totally agree with that. Although, most teachers really do try their best to help us, and they should not be punished for our laziness and wrongdoings.
—Guest US Student

Model after professor pay

I wonder whether a merit pay system for teachers can be modeled after the merit pay system that exists in universities. There exists regular experience based pay system which allows for higher pay based on experience. However, individual professors can negotiate their own salaries. Academic salaries increase when other institutions try to recruit a professor by offering higher salaries. The professor goes to the dean and says: Look, I have a better offer from another place. If you match it I stay here, if you don’t I am moving. If principles or boards are given ways to recurred good teachers from other places (or are given the discretion to match offers to keep good teachers) then really valuable teacher, the one everybody wants, will have larger pay, while replaceable teacher will follow the usual slower-growing seniority based system. Teachers and administrator internally know who the best teachers are. You don’t have to have some score based system tied only to “performance”.
—Guest Dr. Vakarleov

Objective Merit Pay

Merit pay should not be based on student performance but rather how well the teacher covers the material, lesson planning, classroom management, etc. Teachers doing things correctly leads students to success. This is what needs to be measured, not a test score. This type of assessment can be accurate and measurable & sets the field for student success. Students and parents have to do their part as well. It is not logical to measure it otherwise.
—Guest Guest Mike

Why would teachers both teaching then...

The majority of teachers, myself included, became teachers to help those in need the most. If we were to be paid on merit, nobody would be teaching in the inner cities where good teachers are needed most. It doesn't how matter how great of a teacher you are, you get a lot of students who will continually get low scores because they just don't care. A teacher might be able to raise a few scores and impact a few students, but if they got paid on merit as a whole, they too would be below the poverty level. Do doctors get paid based on how many of their patients survive? If you had dozens of patients everyday coming in with life threatening injuries, many of them die as they are waiting to be operated on, does your salary go down?
—Guest Clint B

Success is not a pipe dream

Folks, I understand that teachers are scared of this concept. Look at the responses from the teachers above. But if we are going to improve education in this country and compete with other nations, then we must do so from the ground up, starting with the teachers and school system. Yes, parents must be part of the equation but that will come with time. We must change the way society views education and make it a priority. Why start with teachers? The same reason you draw better customers into a business with improvements in your staff, product, and service. It took decades to turn the education system into the disaster it is today and it will be a huge struggle to bring it back to where it belongs and beyond. Time to step up or step out.
—Guest Tom

why

Why would you think teachers would get paid better than they do now? The system would only pay the terrible teacher less. The better teachers would never see a substantial raise. Education is a service. It does not produce income that can be divided amongst its employees.
—Guest brad

This is ridiculous.

Tying pay to the success of students on standardized tests is the biggest bunch of baloney I've ever heard. You absolutely cannot make a student learn if he/she does not want to. Therefore, their test scores will not turn out as passing, and since they do not pay for "improvement," it hitherto leads to under-paid teachers. Teachers are already under-paid, and linking pay to student success on tests is not the way to go.
—Guest Mystery Woman

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