Synthesize These Sources
Then, in an essay that synthesizes at least three of the sources for support, take a position that defends, challenges, or qualifies the claim that schools would be improved if teachers were paid on the basis of performance.
You may refer to the sources by their titles (Source A, Source B, etc.) or by the descriptions in parentheses.
Source A (Meyers)
Source D (Johnson)
Source E (Ranney)
Source A: Meyers, Joseph P. â€œItâ€™s time for Merit Pay.â€ in Fort Pierce Journal, May 17, 2003. 18.
Ask any student in any school in America, and you will hear the same refrain: some of the teachers in the school are terrible instructors leading boring classes in which students learn little or nothing, while other teachers do an outstanding job of motivating and instructing our children. If this were any other business, those high quality teachers would be bringing home the biggest paychecks, but that is not how it is in America. In America we pay the poor teachers the same as the good ones, or, even worse, we pay them more. The fact is, quality of work is not even a consideration in teaching pay scales, and it is time for that to change.
In almost all school districts today, teachers are paid according to the length of time in the district and the amount of graduate school credit they have accumulated over the years. A poor teacher who hangs on for 30 years, gathering credit in meaningless classes, gets the top pay, while a young, brilliant, hard-working teacher is at the bottom of the scale, despite the fact that he or she is doing twice the job of the teacher with the top pay.
This system started years ago, and it made some sense then. Teacher pay was very uneven, but for reasons that have nothing to do with quality. Specifically, women were paid significantly less then men, on the theory that if they were married, they had husbands who were earning enough money to support the family, and if they were not married, then they only had one mouth to feed. The current teacher pay scale was born to prevent abuses like that by making objective measuresâ€”experience and educationâ€”the basis for pay.
The idea was good, but experience and education do not guarantee high performance. It is time to put actual performance into play as the determiner of salary. Rewarding teachers by the quality of their performance will increase the job satisfaction for these hard workers and make them want to continue their performance. More importantly, it will motivate the poorer teachers to work harder, learn new skills, or get into another profession where they belong.
Source D: Johnson, Edwin R, ed. â€œPeter Jacobsonâ€ in Lives in Education: Award Winning Teachers Tell their Stories. New York: McMillan. 2003.
I actually had a good time at first in that school. I made a lot of friends, and we seemed to enjoy, in some perverse way, having to deal with that principal. It gave us something to talk aboutâ€”and laugh aboutâ€”when we got together. That ended, though, just before my third year in the building.
We had a merit pay system, in which the supposed top teachers in the school got a bonus for being so great. Of course, since our infamous principal was in charge of selecting the recipients, you can be sure greatness had nothing to do with teaching quality. We usually didnâ€™t pay much attention to itâ€”until we found out that one of the teachers in our department, one of the people we hung out with and laughed about the principal withâ€”had gotten merit pay. He was a pretty mediocre teacher who had never used any of the tricks that others used to draw attention to themselves, so we could not figure out any way he could have gotten itâ€”unless he was talking to the principal about what we all were saying about him.
A spy in our midst!
I donâ€™t know if it was true, but the next year was not a good one. Whenever he entered the office, conversations would stop. He was pretty much exiled from all social activities. Did he really sit in the principalâ€™s office and tell him everything that we were saying behind his back in order to win his performance bonus? I have no idea, but the fear that he might have done so destroyed the harmony we used to feel and made him in particular a pariah. The gloom of suspicion hung over the department for the whole next year.
I decided that this was no place for me to develop my career. I wanted to work in a school where we could all work together for the common goal of educating children without all that continual turmoil and suspicion. The principal was fired a couple of years later, but I was long gone by then. I was fortunate enough to find a school with a nurturing atmosphere that allowed me to grow and become the teacher I had always envisioned myself to be.
Source E: Courson, David P. â€œNew Indicators of Teacher Performanceâ€ in The Fort Bisbee Journal. April 1, 2005. 18.
One aspect of the new state testing system that has not been considered is a happy side effect: we now have a good way to measure teacher performance. Critics of merit pay systems argueâ€”with great justificationâ€”that there is no good way to measure teacher performance. In typical merit pay systems, the second rate teachers often get the merit pay, and the top teachers, the ones who truly deserve it, are demoralized and start to perform at a lower level. Thus, traditional merit pay systems actually lower school performance by rewarding the wrong teachers and harming teacher morale. State testing programs give us a solution to that problem by giving us the tool to identify the top performers.
All students are now tested to see how they measure against the state content standards. It will be a simple matter to see which teachers have the top performing students and give them appropriate bonuses as rewards for their excellent results. This perfectly objective measure would leave no room for complaints or loss of morale. The best teachers would be appropriately rewarded, and morale will increase instead of decreasing.
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