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Merit pay is a term used to describe the payment of wages or salaries based on performance. This form of payment grants bonuses to workers who execute their duties effectively according to quantifiable standards.
Merit pay can easily be used in non-education sectors such as finance, industrial and other service industries as merit can be based on quantifiable factors such as financial performance and customer feedback. However, this method of payment cannot be easily used in education since different students and pupils have different abilities, besides, the educational sector is not a profit-making entity.
However, proponents of merit pay, among other arguments, assert that the system would be coherent with management concepts from the private sector and would improve educational standards. Merit pay in the education sector has continued to face opposition from various stakeholders who insist that this system will lower staff morale and thus ruin the education system.
Arguments for Merit Pay for Teachers
Teachers’ pay should be based on performance as the system would bring several improvements into the educational sector. To begin with, merit pay would ensure that teachers achieve goals that are set at the beginning of the evaluation period.
These goals could be in the form of students achieving a set mean grade, performance in specific subjects such as mathematics or sciences, or excelling in co-curricular activities. Secondly, merit pay would keep better teachers around for a longer time. The current educational system has no initiative for rewarding teachers who excel in their duties, for this reason, such teachers are normally ‘poached’ by private schools who offer better pay.
Therefore, a pay based on performance would retain these teachers as their pay would match or even surpass those of the private sector, the schools will also be able to attract teachers with exemplary performance. Finally, the end results of this system would increase over the educational system. Besides keeping better teachers and achieving educational goals, the system would improve education over the long period (Solomon, Pp. 113).
The applicability of this system is drawn from various evidences. Most teachers have a unique way of teaching that makes evaluating difficult. Should educational authorities implement a merit play, they will have to outline standards on which evaluations are based on and this will standardize educational systems in the country.
Besides, increased pay would be a big motivator at the workplace as teachers who are ranked highly would feel that their efforts are paying back. This would encourage them and even encourage teachers whose rankings are low to work harder (Solomon, Pp. 121).
Another evidence for the use of this system arises from studies that indicate average Sat scores have dropped 80 points over the last 30 years. This drop has been partly attributed to weaknesses in the current educational system, this trend could be corrected by implementing a merit pay system for teachers to encourage them, and this will improve student performance.
Several factors have warranted authorities to propose merit pay for teachers. First, it would be easier to follow set plans than to come up with them. The plans would be set up by authorities in the education sector and implemented in most public institutions, this would ensure education is standardized, rather than allowing each institution to come up with its own system (Stronge et al, Pp. 20).
Secondly, a higher pay for teachers who excel in their teaching roles would improve the quality of education in the country. America believes that the educational system has gotten worse, this idea finds support from studies that have shown that average Sat scores have fallen drastically over the recent years, therefore, the system requires several reforms, one of which is a merit pay system (Stronge et al, Pp. 28).
Objection to Performance Pay
Implementation of a payment based on performance continues to face opposition from various angles. Critics argue that such a system would remove all creativity from teaching and teachers would follow the set standards to the core. Besides, the system could make some teachers to teach with the sole aim of increasing stats and could even help students cheat to reach desired pay.
This practice could deviate from the main aim of education, which is to develop an individual physically, mentally and spiritually. Objections also arise from the idea that statistics that indicate a drop in Sat scores over the last 30 years can be attributed to studies which show that education has gotten harder in the past 30 years, rather than teachers’ inefficiency.
Despite being proposed as a solution to the ailing education sector, merit pay may not necessarily improve education in the country. Most teachers would dislike not being able to teach their class their own way. The teaching method used depends on various factors such as the academic ability of the students and cultural and economic norms.
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If the teachers are forced to use a standard system, it may not auger well with the teachers. Such a move would also increase expenditure on the academic sector since certain schools may consist of all well experienced teachers. This would deprive other vital sectors of funds. Finally, studies show that performance-based payments do not automatically improve performance, other factors must be taken into consideration.
Solomon, Lewis. The Case for Merit Pay. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2006.
Stronge, James, Gareis, Christopher, and Little, Catherine . Teacher Pay and Teacher Quality: Attracting, Developing and Retaining the Best Teachers. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Books, 2006.