The New York Times published an article, “Long Reviled, Merit Pay Gains Among Teachers” which describes several initiatives to pay teachers based on the improvement of their students.
I find myself disagreeing with those who believe teachers should be paid this way. In thinking about all of the best teachers in my life, those who actually made a difference, whether they were teaching exactly what they were supposed to or not, probably would not have benefitted from having me or many of my peers in a class. What they offered us was definitely not anything measurable by standardized tests. They offered us knowledge and wisdom that was most certainly beyond the scope of any curriculum that any state committee could develop.
I highly disagree with using standardized tests in general. While I have tended to score fairly well on many of them, I realize that so many people who did not are denied opportunities they might have had without this movement toward standardization (a topic of a future rant, perhaps). Let measurement play a role in areas where measurement is legitimate and accurate; don’t force it into areas that it does not apply. Passion and enthusiasm cannot be expressed as a number. Keep standardized tests away from killing off the good teachers. They are the some of the only people that make people like me want to be educated.
I think these state legislatures should instead toy with killing off or heavily reducing tenure for any teacher below higher education. I’ve always found competition is a great motivator for success.