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The merit pay system for teachers has become a topic of heated debate. Obama’s administration is highly positive about the system, and this policy received quite significant funds (Strauss par. 1). Supporters of the idea of merit pay stress that good teachers should be rewarded and bad teachers should be forced to improve their skills to be able to provide high-quality services to students. At the same time, there are many opponents to the policy. These opponents are mainly teachers and teachers’ unions.
They argue that merit pay can undermine teamwork, which is crucial in teaching, and it can encourage educators to focus on preparations to tests rather than proper teaching (Matthews par. 2). They also add that there are no definite data showing that the policy significantly improves students’ performance. However, even though the system is quite imperfect, it should be developed and implemented as this is a fair and effective way to encourage educators to go the extra mile and inspire students to learn and develop.
Benefits of Merit Pay for Teachers
It is necessary to note that the quality of education in many schools is unsatisfactory, and many people claim that this is a result of teachers’ low salaries and poor motivation strategies. For instance, people of Newark are not satisfied with their local public schools as over “30% of pupils do not graduate” and “in the 15 worst-performing schools” only 25% of students “read to the standard prescribed for their age” (“Merit Pay for Teachers” par. 1). Many people believe that the old system that ensures larger payments for ‘more experienced’ teachers is ineffective as it is impossible to assume that teachers who simply work longer are more experienced or more efficient. Clearly, low salaries force teachers (especially young ones who often have numerous ideas and great inspirational power) to leave low-performing schools or schools located in poor neighborhoods.
Admittedly, pay merit can solve this problem as truly inspiring teachers that help students gain knowledge should get fair salaries and should be rewarded. At the same time, low performing educators have to try hard to improve their skills rather than simply working at school and failing to provide even the necessary amount of knowledge to students.
At the same time, opponents of the policy claim that there are no clear data showing that merit pay for teachers actually works. Some surveys show that there is no significant difference between students’ test performance irrespective of teachers’ salaries (Strauss par. 7). More so, there are fears that educators will focus on getting the extra payment and will be worse team workers, but collaboration among teachers is crucial.
Nonetheless, these skeptical views are poorly grounded. Thus, there are surveys that show that teachers perform better if their salary depends on their performance (Matthews par. 4). It is necessary to note that major results are achieved if the teachers are not only rewarded, but they can lose some amount. This principle can be a good basis for a new merit pay system. Besides, students’ test scores cannot be the only sign of good or bad teachers’ performance, as numerous factors should be taken into account.
On balance, it is possible to note that merit pay for teachers can be an effective policy if implemented properly. Educators have to be encouraged to work harder and achieve higher results. This will be beneficial for students who will be able to obtain a high-quality education.
Matthews, Dylan. “Does Teacher Merit Pay Work? A new Study Says Yes.” The Washington Post 2012. Web.
“Merit Pay for Teachers: Bonus Time.” The Economist 2012. Web.
Strauss, Valerie. “Ravitch: Why Merit Pay for Teachers Doesn’t Work.” The Washington Post 2011. Web.