My Perfect School – Merit Pay


I believe I have done a post prior to this one on Merit Pay for teachers.  It is an idea whose time has come in education and school.  A teacher should be paid based on their ability and merit not based on their longevity and education.  The main reason being is that I hear about too many teachers with advanced degrees and so many years of service but are horrible teachers, don’t teach anything, hand out worksheets, etc.  I hear these things from the most reliable source of information about teacher classroom behavior: the students.  With that introduction, here is my plan for merit pay in education.

Merit pay will not be based upon test scores.  Test scores are an unreliable source of information of student learning.  I know of plenty of students who have pass the Nevada High School Proficiency Test for Math but never passes a math class in their life.  There are too many factors that play into high stakes testing for it to be a reliable source of information about the worth or merit of a teacher.  It will also not be based upon student grades.  This would be open to way to much corruption.  The merit pay system of my school would be based on several factors.

First, it would be based on teacher evaluations.  A few days ago I addressed this in a similar My Perfect School post.  Go back and read it so you might understand how I would effectively evaluate teachers.  There would be some sort of scale that determined how much of a raise the teacher got for the next school year based on the information provided by all of their evaluations.  I would probably rationalize that a teacher’s pay would go up by a maximum of ten percent a year based on their evaluations.

Secondly, it would be based upon a teacher’s continuing education.  This is not just courses taken for an advanced degree but also for seminars and conferences the teacher attends.  There would be a set percentage point the teacher would earn for every credit or contact hour they had during the previous school year.  The education must related expressly to their teaching though.  A class on using Microsoft Excel would not qualify for the pay raise unless they were able to show how it would have been used in the classroom.  Also, the continuing education they received would only benefit them in their pay raise for the next year.  Education would also be used to help determine the pay rate of a new experienced teacher hired for the school.  The school would take the beginning base pay and add in a certain amount of percentage points based on their continued education.

The third factor of a teacher’s merit pay raise would be based on their involvement in the school that previous year.  There are several ways this could be done.  One way would be to offer a stipend to special positions at the school, like coach, department chair, and/or committee membership (remember my posting on the school having no central administration).  The other option would be to give the teacher’s an hourly rate for the work that they do in those positions.  I am not sure which exactly is the best option, but both have merits.

One factor I have considered is experience or longevity, but feel that the other three factors would be more beneficial in the long run.  The only way I would ever consider using experience as a determiner for teacher pay would be during initial hiring of an experienced teacher.  Each year of experience would grant them a certain percentage point above the school’s base pay.

One issue a school would run into with this system is good teachers will be able to climb the salary ladder very quickly.  I would imagine the school would need to implement some sort of cap on the teacher salary to help control costs that could quickly spiral out of control by hiring good teachers.  I am not sure how high salary cap would go.  Once a teacher has reached that cap maybe to reward them for doing a good job would be a one time loyalty bonus based directly on the merit pay percentages that they have earned.  I do not have too many worries over a salary capped teaching going bad since the evaluation system is very in depth.  And without tenure they can be released from the contract if they don’t measure up to the standards of the school.

There is a lot room for comments in this posting.  Feel free to give me a piece of your mind.

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