If That’s Merit Pay, I’ll Remain A Slacker

Our parish received a decent chunk of change from the governor that we’re supposed to use for a merit pay system. That’s all I know. I do not know if we were told how the system should work, or if the design and implementation was up to our local authorities. I do know the system we have is worthless.

Why? Because rather than making the extra pay depend on individual performance, it depends on the entire school. Each school that makes its yearly performance goals (test scores and attendance) receives a share of the award. It does not matter how well an individual teacher’s students do, if the school overall fails there is no merit pay. Making rewards depend on teamwork is great for team sports. Education is not a team sport. Sure, we can have meetings, and we can teach across the curriculum, but in reality, little to nothing the history teacher does is going to help the students improve math scores. And of course, every second the English teacher worries about science is one less second the English teacher is worrying about English. In other words, keying the pay to school performance creates incentives for no one. There’s nothing practical I can do that would help “the school” meet its goals. There’s nothing I have not been dong that I am now going to do because I have a potential financial reward. I can’t even think of anything.

Other than, of course, doing my best to teach my own students my own subject. But if that’s the best way I can help “the school,” then it would be a lot more efficent to key the merit pay to my success or failure in my part of the school’s success. The connection would be direct. The likelihood that teachers would receive the pay would go up. That would spur better work next year, too, as other teachers saw the reward first hand. But, alas, the education world being what it is, we’d rather exist in fantasy land and dream about teamwork than deal with reality.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Big Dumb Government, Teaching

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