Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Merit Pay and Why It Works

From a NY Times piece today:

The positions of the two national teachers’ unions diverge on merit pay. The National Education Association, the larger of the two, has adopted a resolution that labels merit pay, or any other pay system based on an evaluation of teachers’ performance, as “inappropriate.”

The American Federation of Teachers says it opposes plans that allow administrators alone to decide which teachers get extra money or that pay individual teachers based solely on how students perform on standardized test scores, which they consider unreliable. But it encourages efforts to raise teaching quality and has endorsed arrangements that reward teams of teachers whose students show outstanding achievement growth.

So if a teacher is good, they wouldn't be opposed to merit pay; if they're bad, they would be. Or one can argue that all teachers are concerned about the amount their students learn and that judging solely on test scores is a poor way to dole out pay. But then if that's the case, the American Federation of Teachers actually takes a pretty reasonable stance - one that I happen to agree with, since you factor in achievement growth but do not rely solely on standardized test scores.

I've always thought merit pay was a great way to align or motivate for performance but in this case you see at least one unscrupulous union looking to unreasonable "protection" for its members. I say the best way to protect your pay and job is to continually improve and add value, especially in what is popularly called our increasingly global economy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good teachers can fear merit pay because they have an expectation that it won't actually be awarded to good teachers, but instead will be awarded based on favoritism, cronyism, nepotism or other similar factors. If you look at who draws the few awarded perks in public school teaching, good teaching isn't usually the common denominator. It's not unreasonable to assume that "merit" pay would
end up awarded in similar fashion by administrators who are less "accountable" for and directly involved in student achievement.

The AFT's position is a really sensible one.