Sunday, September 07, 2008

Tenure? No thanks.

Via Joanne Jacobs, a blog post (which I couldn't get to open properly) discusses the generation gap split when discussing tenure vs. merit pay. I'm young, and I want merit pay.

I will use the ever shaky business comparison to show why I would prefer merit pay.

At my school, only 63% of Sophomores were at or above Proficient on our state's exam for reading across the disicplines. 78% of my students were at or above proficient. I taught our middle of the pack students, not honors, not fundamental. I feel good, not great about these scores. But if in comparison, and I don't have those numbers, my students outperformed students in the same class level with a different teacher, I want to be paid more than them.

In the world of sales, it would hold true that performance matters more than tenure. In education where we are judged by our performance in the form of evaluations, we should have our ability to teach students as part of the equation.


At 5:09 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree and I disagree. I, too, am a young teacher who likes the idea of merit pay, but not if it's based on test scores. How do you know that 78% of your students because of you? How do you know that 22% failed because of you? What if we were paid based on our merit, the activities that we do that go beyond normal duties?

At 5:32 PM , Blogger ms-teacher said...

Why can't we have both? Why does it have to be an either or proposition? When I went to the NEA-RA, I went to a forum on teaching quality. One of the ideas that was brought up was the idea of a different tier system, which is already in use in a lot of districts.

This tier system would has four tiers. The first is for beginning teachers, the second is for those teachers with a few years more experience under their belt. The last two tiers is where it gets interesting. It is broken apart by how much professional development and leadership a teacher has exhibited over the course of their career. A teacher could theoretically not move beyond the second tier if they were happy with just getting a salary increase based on years in a district. The last two tiers would have years in the district, combined with such things as professional development hours, national board certification, etc.

Personally, I love this idea because I know how much I've done over the years to try to make my school site better vs. some teachers who are good teachers but for whatever reason, aren't doing things like PD to become even better.

Finally, I never want test scores tied to my salary. As the previous poster stated, I think it is a very risky proposition with way too many variables.

At 12:44 PM , Blogger jdenslow said...

I think merit pay should be available to all teachers. Any system needs to recognize that there are multiple ways to recognize meritorious work.

I teach theater, speech, and debate. How will my merit be measured? By how well my students do at contests? By my own professional contribution to the activity? There's no standardized test for what I teach, but I teach it well. How can a merit pay system recognize that?

At 8:47 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mere words "merit pay" make me shudder, mainly because now any talk of "merit pay" is automatically linked to test scores.

Sure, if we could find a way to determine teacher merit FAIRLY, I'd be all over it. Some way that would take into account the students' SES, home life, parents' background, outside influences, etc. I've taught in different grade levels and in vastly different neighborhoods, and the rich kids have a very unfair advantage. The kids whose parents are NOT going through a power-struggle divorce also have a nice advantage over the kids whose families are, well, not using them as pawns in their sick little games, especially when all this is going on right before state testing day. (Can you tell how I feel about NCLB?)

A system like what ms-teacher pointed out (a system that takes into account years of experience and the amount of outside work the teacher has done to improve him/herself and/or the school where he/she works) would be okay with me, because it does a better job of looking at the whole picture and what the techer has actually done.

Also, like Jen said, I teach Spanish. We're not TAKS tested, so how would my "merit pay" be determined? I certainly work to help my students develop their critical thinking and language arts skills, and whenever I can tie in math, science, or social studies skills, I do.

Given what "merit pay" means in our political realm at the moment (test scores), I have to say an emphatic NO THANKS to merit pay. When I start to hear better plans coming from the politicians who get to make these decisions (even though they don't know a thing about the topic), I might change my mind, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.


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