Allene Magill, writing on behalf of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, explains why teachers don’t want “merit pay” based on test scores. They have no objection to extra pay for extra work or other kind of performance, but tying their compensation to test scores is offensive to them.
“The most rewarding aspect of teaching occurs when a former student lets an educator know the difference he or she made in their life. After more than 40 years as an educator, I’ve experienced that many times. I assure you that not once has a former student told me how much he appreciated my contribution to his score on a standardized test. Students have, however, talked about the importance of their relationship with me as their teacher — the encouragement to work hard, the extra attention to help them grasp a concept, a kind word when life got tough, extra responsibilities that built confidence and leadership experience, and making time for the arts and non “core” subjects.
“We’ve committed a disservice to all students and educators over the past 20 years by focusing on performance on standardized tests and reducing opportunities for building great student relationships. Initially, standardized tests were reserved for core content every few years, and teachers could maintain enough flexibility to nurture and support students. Now teacher evaluations are tied to all content. No subject can be studied without the student taking an assessment that stamps her effort with a score while also passing judgment on her teacher.”
Pay for test scores is demeaning to teachers. Yet Governor Nathan Deal and his Education Reform Commission insist that every school district develop a plan to do it.
Please, someone tell Governor Deal that merit pay has been tried for a century and has never worked. Teachers need to collaborate, not complete.