Is Merit Pay For Teachers The Answer?

2431 words - 10 pages

When it comes to education, everyone has an opinion. But, does anyone truly have the perfect solution? One proposed solution bringing about debate in the last few years has been merit pay for teachers (Wright, 2003). As we know, teachers often receive the brunt of criticism from the public when it comes to the failure of education. But is merit pay the solution? Wright (2003) states that although there may be some validation to the idea of merit pay, there are also some serious concerns.
As more public gains concern for the quality of education, the more interest the public has in teacher accountability and performance. A recent poll stated that there is much interest by the public in linking student performance to teacher accountability (Wright, 2003). According to the guidelines of merit pay, the teacher has the sole responsibility of determining if a child is successfully educated or not.
According to Protheroe (2011), much of the public is on board with the merit pay initiative. In response to the 2010 Phi Delta Kappa Gallop Poll, 71% of respondents expressed support for paying teachers on the basis of work, as opposed to relying totally on traditional pay schedules, while 73% indicated that a teacher's salary should be tied to student academic achievement (Protheroe, 2011). These statistics indicate that should the public have any say in the manner, merit pay may be a thing of the future.
Many agree that there is nothing that better defines a first-rate school than the quality and performance of its instructional staff (Drevitch, 2006). But, what is the true definition of a quality teacher performance? What is the definition of a successfully performing student? Before performance-based compensation can be implemented, it requires a clear and obvious definition (Gratz, 2010).
Another good question regarding education is if poor teaching causes low test scores, then what causes poor teaching? Test-based compensation plans suggest that the primary cause is teacher motivation and therefore believe that financial incentives, such as merit pay, are the solution. It has been suggested that one reason teachers are not trying is because they are not motivated (Gratz, 2010).
Currently most school districts pay teachers using an old style salary scale, which was adopted nearly a century ago. The scale contains steps that provide teachers with annual raises for each year of experience. Teachers with a higher education are compensated for their advanced degrees. However, the only way a teacher can earn more salary is if the obtain additional education (Johnson-Moore & Papay, 2010).
Again, the question that looms is, is merit pay the answer? Five states, including Arizona, Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, and North Carolina have adopted the method of merit pay, yet, according to public test scores, continue to achieve average test scores. Governor Mitt Romney is currently preparing a proposal for merit pay in Massachusetts...

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