« Hybrid, Shmybrid -- Let's MIX IT UP! | Main | Fewer Dollars = Unhappy Employees? Not Necessarily! »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Jim, Thanks for the provocative topic on merit pay for teachers. Teachers run in my family - my mother retired from the highly regarded Fairfax County, Virginia school system, and my wife is a 30-year high school teacher/college professor/College Board consultant/textbook author.

If there was a magic answer to merit pay for teachers, we'd love to see it implemented right away.

Interestingly, the US Secretary of Education has advocated merit pay for teachers. But saying it and putting it into play over the objections of the influential national teacher unions are two different things. (Did any merit pay principles show up in the recent teacher bailout bill? Not that I saw.)

There are so many challenges that local school districts face in developing merit pay for teachers ...
-- budgetary constraints
-- valid and reliable performance measures that can deal with the highly variable student mix over time, between classes, between schools, and so on
-- the credibility of subjective evaluations no matter how much training participants get in the process
-- transparency in public education that would expose teacher evaluations and/or pay differentiation

One of the attractive approaches I have seen is national teacher certification. There is already a highly credible organization that is actively performing these rigorous certifications. Problem with this approach is that it is very expensive and is highly dependent on a school district or state's willingness to fund the certification process, and then provide a meaningful stipend for those who pass.

But hey, if a proven teacher merit pay program is out there, I'm anxious to jump on that bandwagon.

Thank goodness it's still a profession that attracts people who have a sense of "noblesse oblige."

Lots of people have advocated it. My original article stemmed from a NPR Conversations from Wingspread show where I appeared the day after AFT president Al Shanker, who had called for merit pay for teachers during his radio interview. When asked what I thought of the idea, I realized it was highly desirable but virtually impossible, given the status quo circumstances. All that is still true. We continue to face the same daunting challenge.

The comments to this entry are closed.