General Question

gimmedat's avatar

Should teachers receive merit pay for the performance of their students on standardized tests?

Asked by gimmedat (3943points) October 8th, 2008

Some districts around the U.S. are giving teachers merit pay based on their students’ mastery of standardized tests. Should teachers be rewarded in this manner?

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7 Answers

googlybear's avatar

No, teachers would teach to the test rather than teaching children the skills necessary…..There’s more to life than passing tests….

laureth's avatar

When all that matters is the scores that students acheive on standardized tests, it causes teachers to teach “to the test.” We’ve seen this happen more and more since “no child left behind” – schools can’t afford to lose federal funding, so they spend far longer going over these tests – and ignoring all the other important things that kids need to learn in school.

Whatever teachers are financially rewarded for doing is what they will make happen. And while it is very important for students to be up to par in reading, writing, and math, if all we do is teach to the test, they are missing out on so much. In a decade or two, we’ll have turned out a generation who will know how to take a standardized test, but who don’t know anything else – they won’t have read the Constitution, they will not have studied history, they won’t have read great literature, they won’t have learned creative writing (or anything else creative, for that matter). What spirit will they have, beyond the simple ability to work, to consume, to obey?

Hmm, maybe that’s what’s behind this “no child left behind” after all… but I digress.

We already have “no child left behind” to make sure that the kidlets do well on the standardized tests. That is going to happen. Perhaps what we really need is to encourage (and pay) teachers to teach them all the other stuff that they are not being taught anymore. I say we bonus teachers who turn out kids that do well on tests… AND know how to balance a checkbook, cook a meal (boys as well as girls), can tell us what their Constitutional rights are, have done some scientific research, and can write a sonnet. Now THAT is what I’d vote a millage increase to have happen!

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Getting an A in a subject is no guarantee that you know the subject, or can think.

I think merit pay should come from a different type of evaluation, more like what businesses use for JD Powers, or quality assurance metrics. Great teachers incite you to learn or think differently. Students learn more from correcting answers than from getting the right answer the first time.

rowenaz's avatar

Everyone knows that certain people change the answers on the tests after they turned in. How do you prove it? You can’t. I’m a teacher and my students come back and tell us that, X who was giving them the test, told them to change answers, hinted that one was wrong, re-explained the question, did all of the things that are illegal. I am 100% sure that certain members of administration in schools where I have worked, have changed answers for some students in order to raise scores. How do I know? When teachers give the DRA those kids are 3,4,5 years below grade level. Suddenly, on the standardized tests, they score Proficient. NOT POSSIBLE. Yet it has happened every year. Some people have changed the test results to exit children from ESL earlier, and then the kids fail the following year because they get no academic support, and then they are forced to stay back….

Now, you might say, what do you care? If you got merit pay because your kids scored higher, your laughing your way to the bank…but that is crap – the kids that I care about don’t get taught the things that they need, because they passed the test. They fall further behind, are grouped incorrectly because their levels are not right, and their daily performance can never live up to their test scores.

There should not be merit pay for teachers under any circumstances, EVER.

It’s a different question, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to answer it anyway.

At the end of the year, they sit around the teachers room and decide where to put students for the Fall. The teachers that certain people have a grudge against, for whatever reason, get the most difficult to handle, lowest, high needs students. They doom the entire class to a bad year, because there’s no balance, the teacher is exhausted, and the kids can’t get the help they need because there are just too many high needs students and not enough staff to help that teacher. Some administrators purposely sabotage teachers who are not their best friends.

The administrators will give the highest scoring, best behaved students to their cronies, thus ensuring their buddies get the merit raises.

augustlan's avatar

@rowenaz: That (all of it) is just outrageous! Can’t you report this kind of behaviour to someone?

rowenaz's avatar

No proof, administrators support their own, and this is also why I support the union…not that my union helps…but sometimes it does.

BarbieM's avatar

Teachers who teach the remedial classes would never get merit pay, while teachers of AP and honors classes would. There are too many factors that affect student achievement and is too open to abuse potential.

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