Many schools across the nation, including some public schools in Southern California, are considering paying teachers based on student performance.
Under this system, teachers will not be paid based on the longevity of their teaching career but rather by their overall effectiveness. Advocates believe that under this system, the government will be able to identify effective teachers and reward them financially, further motivating them to perform better.
Colleen McGurk, a special education teacher with seven years of experience, said in an interview with CNN that teachers have the most critical role in determining student achievement. Monetary incentives, she says, will possibly inspire the teachers to perform better and receive more effective results
“I have heard a variety of excuses as to why our schools are not performing at a higher, and more consistent level. Poverty is certainly a piece of the puzzle and it must be addressed. But one of the best ways to reverse poverty is through an excellent education,” she said. “And when it comes to education, no group is better prepared to lead than teachers.”
The idea has some appeal to ShinYoung Park, a sophomore at Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies (LACES) who said in an interview with J Student Reporters that merit-based pay will close the student achievement gap across the nation.
“The government has a curriculum with standards that all teachers must follow. Yet schools in the richer, higher class neighborhoods tend to perform better,” Park said about system as it is today.
However, some say that this policy may be too difficult and costly to apply effectively.
A Louisiana public school system has adopted merit pay has had difficulties. The bonuses amounted to as little as $200, and some admit that such small reward money may not truly motivate teachers to perform better.
“If the higher pay were, like, moving to a base pay of $70,000 a year, I think people would jump at situations where they could achieve that. But [not] when we’re talking … [about] an extra 300 to 700 [dollars] a year,” said Richard Speaker, chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of New Orleans, during an interview with the New Orleans Times-Picayune.