If you walk into a teacher's lounge, and your goal is to get the teachers really fired up...then ask them how
they feel about merit pay! Teachers across the nation are torn in their
beliefs when it comes to merit pay. For every teacher that supports
merit pay, there is a teacher who firmly disagrees with merit pay.
Educational reform would not be complete without some kind of overhaul
in the way teachers are compensated. In the current form most teachers
are paid based on their years of service and education, and in my
opinion there are several flaws with this type of compensation setup.
It would be easy to think the longer a teacher has taught, the more
effective he/she is, however that is not always the case. Additionally,
it would be easy to think the more education a teacher has, the more
effective he/she is, and as before mentioned this is not always the
case. Taking a small step back, I think the million dollar question
should be, not how much should we pay teachers, but rather does
compensation and pay always have to be in the form of money?
Research has continually shown that merit pay can have adverse effects on teacher and student achievement,
rather than the expected increases in performance. When teachers are
paid based on their individual performance it has been reported to
negatively affect the relationships teachers have with each other. The
collaborative nature that is essential to the efficiency and
improvement of education is greatly reduced when teachers feel they are
working for their own benefit, and not for the benefit of the team.
Perhaps the biggest concern with merit pay is the way teacher performance is determined. Should we use
the results of one test per year to determine the overall effectiveness
of a teacher, or should we use the grades of students for one teacher
versus the grades of students from another teacher? The validity of
merit pay is called into question because we are trying to make teacher
performance into a black and white image, when as every educator
knows, there is nothing black and white about education.
The elephant in the room can not be ignored. What really motivates and drives teachers? Money, fringe
benefits, personal drivers, huge signing bonuses, lavish lifestyles and
celebrity status? I think not, so then why is money and compensation
such a big deal? Most teachers did not enter the teaching profession
for money. We never thought being a teacher would put us on the same
level as a professional athlete or a big name actor or actress. We
were motivated and driven by the idea of impacting the lives of
students. We wanted to inspire, motivate, encourage, teach, develop,
mold, educate, guide, strengthen, create, stimulate, enhance, discover
and influence the lives of our students in a positive and meaningful
Daniel Pink, wrote a fantastic book called Drive. This book outlines the basic principles that motivate humans. The basic
principles were not celebrity status, they were not huge pay checks,
they were not fancy cars and big houses, they were much simpler. Human
nature requires autonomy, mastery and purpose to be motivated and
driven. I am not saying merit pay is wrong, because there are states
and districts using merit pay with increases in teacher and student
performance. On the other hand, I am not saying merit pay is right,
because there are also schools who have used merit pay and have seen a
decrease in teacher and student performance. My main point is this: I
urge educators to realize there is not a silver bullet to fixing and
reforming education. There are many components to the educational
process that need to evaluated simultaneously. There is only one part
of education that is simple and straight forward...EVERY DECISION WE
MAKE NEEDS TO BE IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE STUDENTS.
Please respond to this post with comments
and feedback because I would really like to hear what people have to
say about this topic. Thank you!