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Friday, February 04, 2005

No TAK$ Bonus: Teacher Rewards Need a Broader Foundation

No TAK$ Bonus: Teacher Rewards Need a Broader Foundation

Thursday, February 3, 2005


Most human beings like money and are willing to work harder to get more of it. There's nothing wrong with that. However, the more money involved and the narrower the criteria according to which it is distributed, the more likely it is that some people will cheat.

That's true of Olympic athletes. It's true of stockbrokers. It's true of corporate CEOs. There's no reason to think it's not true of teachers and school principals.

That's why legislators who favor a bonus system for teachers need to tie the bonuses to something broader and more nuanced than students' performance on a single test, the annual statewide TAKS exam.

Cheating already happens. This newspaper has reported widespread statistical evidence that suggests cheating in hundreds of Texas schools. The Houston and Dallas districts are investigating those scores and have beefed up security for the next round of TAKS testing.

Most teachers and administrators don't cheat and wouldn't consider cheating. But for a person who is struggling to get by on the average Texas teacher's salary of $40,000 a year, a $5,000 bonus is not a negligible temptation.

We don't buy all the teachers unions' arguments against merit pay – for instance, that it is inherently so political that it's unacceptable. Yes, the subjective judgment of principals would affect teachers' raises – but what profession is immune from boss subjectivity? With a sound grievance process and firm leadership by school boards, a merit pay system could be fair and productive.

So, by all means, let's talk about how to reward teachers who truly deliver an exceptional quality of education. But let's not make their reward contingent on a single event whose results can easily be manipulated.

After all, if enough moolah is riding on a single roll of the dice, somebody will try to load them.

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/opinion/editorials/stories/020405dneditaksbonus.5582.html

2 comments:

  1. As a teacher, and what some may refer to as a "good one", I agree with the author of this article that teachers who do a clearly outstanding job of teaching students should recieve some kind of recognition or reward. However, we need to look at the criteria surrounding "good" teaching. Who deicdes what the teacher in question must do in order to be recognized? Test scores are a vary unwise benchmark for teacher success. Suppose that teacher, like me, has a classroom that is 30% Special Ed. and 15-20% Bilingual ESL? Keep in mind this is a regular education, inclusion classroom. Take into account that 100% of my student body is made up of the 4-6% of kids that cause all of the trouble in our district. Of my 25 students there is one white male, nine African American males, ten Latino males and one Latina female. A very diverse group no matter how you look at it, and a group that on the average does not do very well on the TAKS test or it's predecessor, the TAAS test. Yet, I have somehow earned the recognition of my administration and district as a truly effective educator. This assesment is not based on my test scores, it is based on my daily work. I try and succeed at providing a safe and educationally nurturing environment for my students. Their success, in most cases depends on them showing up every day and doing the best that they can day in and day out. I provide an atmosphere of academic acheivement that fosters future academic success. Many times this "success" can only be measured in fewer write ups, a better attitude and passing grades (C-D category, 70% and above). Not exactly stellar, but a lot better than they were before.
    I agree with the author that good teachers deserve a reward and as we all know, a cash reward is a lot more interesting than a certificate or plaque, but we need to be realistic about the definition of success and how we go about determining who is good and who is not. Remember, in most cases each teacher starts off the year with a brand new set of kids and you can not determine how that teacher did until graduation. In other words, let's be realistic about this incentive pay issue, after all anyone that truly devotes themselves to educating kids is an exceptional person no matter what.

    Allen L. McMurrey

    ReplyDelete
  2. As a teacher, and what some may refer to as a "good one", I agree with the author of this article that teachers who do a clearly outstanding job of teaching students should recieve some kind of recognition or reward. However, we need to look at the criteria surrounding "good" teaching. Who deicdes what the teacher in question must do in order to be recognized? Test scores are a vary unwise benchmark for teacher success. Suppose that teacher, like me, has a classroom that is 30% Special Ed. and 15-20% Bilingual ESL? Keep in mind this is a regular education, inclusion classroom. Take into account that 100% of my student body is made up of the 4-6% of kids that cause all of the trouble in our district. Of my 25 students there is one white male, nine African American males, ten Latino males and one Latina female. A very diverse group no matter how you look at it, and a group that on the average does not do very well on the TAKS test or it's predecessor, the TAAS test. Yet, I have somehow earned the recognition of my administration and district as a truly effective educator. This assesment is not based on my test scores, it is based on my daily work. I try and succeed at providing a safe and educationally nurturing environment for my students. Their success, in most cases depends on them showing up every day and doing the best that they can day in and day out. I provide an atmosphere of academic acheivement that fosters future academic success. Many times this "success" can only be measured in fewer write ups, a better attitude and passing grades (C-D category, 70% and above). Not exactly stellar, but a lot better than they were before.
    I agree with the author that good teachers deserve a reward and as we all know, a cash reward is a lot more interesting than a certificate or plaque, but we need to be realistic about the definition of success and how we go about determining who is good and who is not. Remember, in most cases each teacher starts off the year with a brand new set of kids and you can not determine how that teacher did until graduation. In other words, let's be realistic about this incentive pay issue, after all anyone that truly devotes themselves to educating kids is an exceptional person no matter what.

    Allen L. McMurrey

    ReplyDelete