Are performance bonuses fair? I don’t think so. [“Rethinking Merit Pay,” January/ February] They are based on students meeting the grade-level standard. Since the trend to retain students is not in vogue, most teachers end up with a class of students with varying abilities. Trying to get a child who comes into a 5th grade class at a 2.7 reading level at the beginning of the year to a 5th grade reading level by the end of the year is impossible. It is simply an unrealistic expectation.
Do you want to motivate teachers? Then give them the respect they are due and raise their salaries so they can support their own families with the basics. If you want to add merit pay on top of that, then why not base it on something in the teacher’s control? Can a teacher go home with each student and make a child do homework? Can a teacher make a student focus when there is fighting going on in that child’s home? Can a teacher erase the effects of poverty on a child’s brain function? Pay for performance is just another way to drive good teachers out of the field.
(via the Web)
A version of this article appeared in the March 01, 2007 edition of Teacher as A Better Motivator