I have a question about teacher merit pay

<p>Even if fair merit pay plans are implemented with sound methods for evaluating a teacher’s performance, how many school districts today have the money and will be able to properly fund a merit pay system? I know in Florida right now public education at all levels is hurting for money; where’s the cash for merit pay coming from? It may be great having a merit pay system in place, but if there’s no money available to pay it, deserving teachers will get nothing extra in their paychecks.</p>


I think most parents and kids would be happy enough, and school performance would improve, if only the idiots–and everyone knows who they are, no test results required–were fired, but they hang on like a case of athlete’s foot. I don’t know whether this is because of lazy and incompetent evaluators or union protections, but every school my kids attended had a bunch of awful teachers–usually the burn-out cases. There are so many teachers out there looking for jobs, it’s particularly infuriating that the incompetents aren’t booted. I guarantee that if the poor teachers were eliminated, every student and school would benefit.</p>



<p>In my state, teachers get a pretty decent pension if they stay around for 30 years. Whenever my kids have had a “just fill out the worksheet” kind of teacher, I note their age and assume that they are burned out but just need to stay with it for a few more years to get the pension. I know that I certainly would not want to teach 7th graders for 30 years…I can sympathize with the burn-out, but it’s obviously not good for the students.</p>

<p>Teachers deserve merit pay, especially elementary school teachers. Here on CC we know how well a holistic approach works, why don’t we use that as a model?</p>

<p>Mommaj, the real problem with getting rid of teachers is less the unions, though that certainly may be the case in places where labor relations are really bad, than bad management, meaning the principal, the supervisor of the principals (if there is that) and the superintendent. The difference between schools run by a good principal versus a bad one is night and day. </p>

<p>I can give an example from my own ancient history. One of my junior high teachers was getting married and decided to stop teaching. We’d come to class and after 2 minutes of giving some assignment she’d leave for the teachers’ lounge. The teacher next door would dismiss us at the end of the class. Bad teacher? Heck yes. But the principal did nothing. He could have walked into our class and told her she had to stay, but that never happened. He could have brought in one of the student teachers to help us out, but that never happened. Why? Because the management system was broken. It did a decent but not great job of handling the daily emergencies of a school, like discipline and scheduling, but had no ability to deal with teaching problems. There were ways to address the situation but nothing was done.</p>

<p>The same happens today. I’ve seen schools where a teacher has checked out and the principal waits it out though that hurts the kids for that year. Many principals don’t know how to manage. They’re teachers who have moved into administration and, frankly, many are lousy at it. It’s very easy to get caught up in the multitude of daily tasks and paperwork and miss the management aspects of the job. </p>

<p>BTW, my take on the Chicago strike is that much of the motivation is the sense of hopelessness that teachers in such environments can have. If you haven’t been in these places, it’s hard to imagine how lousy they can be. It is then quite easy to believe that things can’t improve or at least that you can’t improve them much as long as the broken homes and drugs and violence and lack of money and responsible adults infects the community. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, a charter school I’ve tutored at has to turn away many kids because they have no responsible adult in their lives. Think about that and then try to imagine changing lives in those circumstances. If you feel hopeless, the last thing you want is to be held responsible for things you know are beyond your control. No one wants that. No one wants to be evaluated on things you can’t control. And you don’t want to be the focus of blame for larger problems just because you can’t work miracles.</p>

<p>The reason that most of the country is trying to make a case for teacher merit pay is because of the unions and TENURE or I should say lack of tenure reform. Teachers unions have teachers so afraid of principals that could be out to get them that they refuse to allow tenure reform which would allow administrators to get rid of the few bad teachers out there. Or at least limit their pay scales. If not for teacher unions then teacher salaries could be better set based on performance as determined by softer evaluations of teachers rather than test scores, as well as competition thus helping find more stem teachers and then therefore limiting the salaries of the teachers doing a poor job unless they improve. Oh my doesn’t that sound like private industry. And yes before someone says it sometimes people get fired in private industry because their boss just doesn’t like them.</p>

<p>You have teachers fighting tenure reform because they do not trust the political class that has power over schools.</p>

<p>Merit pay has existed for decades in the business world. No pensions, no cost of living adjustment only the man or woman and their contribution to the whole. I’m sure the teachers and administrators are capable of making informed decisions as to how to measure and give merit pay as well as how to measure and put low performing teachers on notice. Unions in other industries have come a long way toward understanding how they fit into the business model and have successfully negotiated contracts that reflect where the world is today compared to the 40s/50s and if the unions haven’t been able to collectively figure it out they exist no longer. </p>

<p>It’s now time for the teachers unions to work for the future and not look to the past. It’s really no secret in school districts within the teachers, the students and the administration who the great teachers are all they would have to do is administer a 360 degree review, something fairly common in business, each year and it wouldn’t be a “mystery.” For several decades our seniors have nominated the teacher currently working that made the largest impact over the course of their experience within the district. It’s the same teachers, over and over and over again until they retire and then with the occasional “newbie” that starts to appear in the list. We have a great school district with only a few weak teachers, but everyone knows who they are and the kids avoid them. </p>

<p>It’s a shame they can’t simply be given a 3 warnings you’re gone system like in business and then replace them if they don’t improve. The day is coming I do believe. In our area teachers are on a step system so I don’t understand why the increase of steps is tied to years of experience and not tied to merit. That doesn’t cost the district anything. You do a good job you move up a step, your 360 degree review comes back abysmal you stay where you are until your reviews improve.</p>



<p>And I’m sure the medical researchers and doctors of the world are capable of coming up with a solution to cancer, but they haven’t. Then again, unless you’re in the field, you really have no idea whether such a thing is possible or not, no?</p>

<p>I don’t believe in merit pay for professionals who serve the community like firefighters, police officers and teachers.</p>

<p>Pay them overtime when their contract requires it, pay them extra when they take on additional duties, but you can’t determine their worth by examining their product( the students).</p>

<p>It’s the supervisors job to support the teachers who need it and to document problems if the teacher needs to be removed from their position. ( don’t ask me who evaluates the principals. In our district they move them around every three years and the really awful ones move into district administration)
I don’t like collective bargaining, I don’t think just because you have been teaching for twenty years means you earn more than someone working for five unless you can prove that you have skills and insight that warrants more money.( but if you can’t prove that after twenty years you may be in the wrong profession).</p>

<p>Each step shouldn’t be automatic, it should be part of a performance review but not dependent on test scores.
When we judge a teacher by their students test scores, what we get are experienced teachers in neighborhoods where the parents are involved - both in the classroom and with their check books. In more challenging schools with high rates of poverty & transition, we see even more transition with teachers who are brand new, some who become so overwhelmed that they don’t even stay in the profession for more than a few years.</p>

<p>momof three- that is how a step system works. If the teacher does not receive a satisfactory review they do not get a step. Talk to the administration about why bad teachers get satisfactory reviews. </p>

<p>Blaming the union is a feeble excuse. I manage over 200 unionized public sector workers so I know what can be done.</p>



<p>My sister is in her 4th year of teaching. She’s at a new school this year in a new state after spending 3 years at one job. From the very beginning her students’ test scores went way up and she received “excellent” ratings from her administrators. But they didn’t re-hire her simply because this year they could get rid of her whereas next year they would have to actually have a reason to do so. Politics at its best…</p>

<p>Back in my own ancient history, I was a special ed teacher, the type who went from school to school to meet with students individually (very close to your neck of the woods, hops). After three semesters I was offered tenure (I was a December grad and started work in January). No one had ever observed me interacting with students or parents in any way. I was 23 years old and didn’t know what the heck I was doing and they offered me tenure. (I moved away and went to law school.)</p>

<p>I am still baffled at the whole process of how to evaluate teachers, however. My three kids have each had this one HS teacher. They report that she hates teaching (she tells them that all the time), she hates most of the students (tells them that, too), talks about how some day they’re going to fire her, etc. But at meet the teacher night, she’s a delight. I’m sure that if an administrator or department head was in her classroom, she would turn off the venom and turn on the charm. Most of the classes she teaches are AP, so she has motivated students, so the annual progress of her students would always look good. What to do?</p>

<p>There are a handful of teachers that make a little over $100,000 in our district, but they have a masters +60, 20+ years of experience and coach 3 sports–so basically they are working 80+ hours/week to get that salary…</p>

<p>When your salary is determined by the efforts of others, how can anyone think this is a good idea? Would you want your salary to be determined by how the department down the hall does in your company? That is what you are asking of teachers.</p>

<p>I’ve also experienced teachers who seemed fine with one kids while the next kid hated them.</p>

<p>mathmom–the teacher the kids hated the most in my high school was probably the best teacher in the high school, why, because he didn’t take crap from anyone, expected perfection in your work and marked you down if you did not do things correctly. Most kids came back after high school to thank him for being hard nosed because it made a HUGE difference in college. He was our senior year English teacher and he made SURE you could write a paper in college. He was also “responsible” for a lot of GPA’s dropping because it was next to impossible to get an A in his class—this of course before schools and teachers caved to parental whining about GPA’s :D.</p>

<p>Right now, it seems that defining or measuring teaching outcomes that would gain a teacher merit pay is extremely difficult. A huge component in student performance has to do with the student’s socio-economic status–something a teacher can’t control.</p>

<p>That being said–I find it interesting that in my district (a small one with only 1100 students in grades K-12) everyone (parents and students) knows which teachers motivate/encourage and push kids to do their best vs. the ones who are just putting in their time. </p>

<p>Seems to me that defining quality teaching is similar to what Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography–that pornography was difficult to define, but he knew it when he saw it and that the film (in the particular case at hand) wasn’t pornographic.</p>



<p>I agree - but that wouldn’t make the school district’s labor & employment attorneys very happy when the district is sued by a teacher who didn’t receive merit pay.</p>

<p>My sister is in her 4th year of teaching. She’s at a new school this year in a new state after spending 3 years at one job. From the very beginning her students’ test scores went way up and she received “excellent” ratings from her administrators. But they didn’t re-hire her simply because this year they could get rid of her whereas next year they would have to actually have a reason to do so. Politics at its best…</p>

<p>I may be slow but this doesn’t make sense to me. If she is a good teacher why did they want to get rid of her?</p>



<p>Does anyone else have a problem with the premise of the above statement? I know I can make a heck of a lot more money initially and longterm in other industries. The salary steps encourage me to stay put… As a teacher you develop more effective strategies well beyond the first five years of teaching. Heck, the first two or three years are very much hit and miss as to what works best! I have been blessed to work with (and have as my children’s teachers) men and women who take pride in expanding their repertoire and techniques year after year after year… to tell them you have deserve no additional monetary compensation past year five would send many of them into non-teaching jobs. I hope I am misreading the quote above…</p>