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Student, Business Engineering, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium

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What do you think of merit-based pay for teachers?

I don't know if the question is still relevant, I haven't followed it until recently but I heard it was quiet a debate at the Presidential election and wanted to know what he TED community thought of this.
Is merit-based pay for teachers a good idea... There are a lot of pros and cons about the topic: Will it help the education of the students (the main goal of the would-be arrangement)? Will the amount of teachers have a positive boost? Will it make the teachers too competitive, lessening the cooperation between them?

Please write your ideas.

(English is not my first language so excuse the grammatical errors and easy language)


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  • Nov 27 2012: How does 'merit' get measured? -By our children who take a standardized test? Is this an appropriate position to put children in? I am not saying that I am opposed to teacher evaluations; however, evaluate teachers' professionalism and engagement in action, not through high stakes testing of children. What about students who learn differently, or more slowly, or communicate better graphicaly or orally? High stakes standardized testing is not a real world experience- it is a fabrication of the education system, an artificial measure of what our children can remember in a one or two hour session on one specific day in a year. It seems a bit arbitrary. Evaluate teaching based on whether or not students are learning the skills that actually matter in their world. Do students have the skills to manage and extract the relevant information and knowledge to complete a task? To solve a problem? To communicate a strategy and possible solutions? To represent their learning? These skills are not easily measured in a standardized test. Foundational literacy and numeracy skills are essential and can be easily measured in a high stakes standardized test that would result in potential bonus pay for teachers in a 'merit pay' evaluation system. However, I am not confident that merit pay will make one bit of difference to the knowledge, skills and understanding that our children need to become successful, contributing members of society (if this is what the goal of our education system is).
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      Nov 27 2012: I heard a heart-wrenching story today from my neighbor about her kindergartener at the neighborhood public school who now has to take thrice yearly standardized tests on computer to measure his progress. The way the test works is that the student is given more and more difficult questions until he misses one after another. The test is in math and verbal.

      The five year old came home upset that he wasn't "smart enough to answer the questions."

      While districts are required to give these tests in order to qualify for federal grants, families are permitted to opt out. This will be my neighbor's kid's last test.
      • Nov 27 2012: I think the fallout for students in a 'merit - pay' system is far too great for children. The impact such a system has on children is often overlooked, as in the example you shared.
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          Nov 28 2012: The testing is happening, though, in public schools regardless of merit pay. I think assessment is important, but large-scale standardized testing tends to measure learning poorly, takes an enormous amount of time that could be used for instruction, and is extremely disruptive of student learning.

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