Merit pay doesn’t offer a solution

It’s too early to tell if merit pay will be a boon or a bust, but teachers and school boards across the country are upset with the idea of merit pay.

Yesterday, Houston became the largest school district in the country to adopt a merit pay system.

Merit pay links teacher’s performance with student’s test scores.

In Houston, teachers could earn between $3,000 and $10,000 extra when students perform well on standardized tests.

In January, State Representative James P. Trakas introduced a new bill that, if approved, would create a merit pay system in Ohio.

Half of a teacher’s salary would be based on classroom performance, including peer and student evaluations, and the other half would be based on pay in their field.

Trakas’ incentive is to award excellence, but not everyone thinks this is feasible.

We at The BG News feel merit pay would be a bust for several reasons.

The first, and biggest problem with merit pay is how to quantify a teacher’s performance.

Some school districts use standardized test scores as a measure of teacher’s performance, but many experts argue standardized tests don’t accurately measure knowledge.

Experimentation is an important part of finding how students learn best, and merit pay might affect a teacher’s willingness to try something new in the classroom.

Additionally, Trakas touts the proposal as something that might attract more students to major in education.

But his reasoning is flawed, and dangerous. Right now, few college students working toward a career in education believe they’ll make a lot of money.

Trakas could argue that merit pay could lead college students to expect higher salaries, but there are too many flaws in this logic to ignore.

We all know a teacher who’s instituted a curve for class grades, and we all know a student or two who probably got pushed through grade school when he or she should have been held back.

This isn’t something we want to encourage teachers to do, but the attraction of merit pay could make this too tempting to pass up.

Merit pay doesn’t solve any problems but it creates more flaws in an already flawed system.

Teachers aren’t paid enough true, but merit pay won’t necessarily improve a teacher’s performance.