Merit pay plan unfair and backwards


The administrators running Waco ISD have their heads in the sand. They are considering a so-called “merit” bonus plan that would reward teachers for good test results but miss the boat on how student achievement is accomplished.

You can read the Waco Tribune story linked below for more details. But essentially every campus in the district that met state standards on STAAR tests would receive $10 for each student at the school, and the principal would determine how to use the money. It could be spent on instructional materials, staff development or merit pay.

The merit pay option apparently would be limited to teachers whose students either did well on STAAR or Advanced Placement tests, while ignoring other teachers who didn’t administer the tests but who definitely contributed to student success.

For example, K-2 teachers, according to the story, wouldn’t be eligible for the bonuses because students don’t take STAAR tests until the third grade. The superintendent suggested those teachers – if they felt overlooked – could transfer to a STAAR tested grade. That type of thinking ignores the reality that few third-graders would pass STAAR tests without the hard work of K-2 teachers who begin building children’s critical learning foundations. Failing to reward the contributions of K-2 teachers would be unfair — and preposterous.

These so-called merit, incentive or performance pay plans ignore the reality that education is a cumulative, collaborative effort to which the entire faculty – K-2, art, music and others whose subjects aren’t tested on STAAR or AP – contribute.

Merit pay is a cheap non-fix, a backwards way of trying to reward teachers in a state where the average teacher pay is more than $8,000 below the national average and many teachers are struggling to make ends meet. TSTA’s recent moonlighting survey showed that 44 percent of teachers have to take extra jobs during the school year and about 60 percent are seriously considering leaving the profession.

Instead of toying around with these minimal, unfair merit proposals, school administrators and board members in Waco and throughout Texas should be demanding that their legislators give all Texas teachers the professional pay they deserve.

The Waco superintendent admitted that the merit idea was “not a perfect system.” It isn’t even close.




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