And you know they would! 🙂 Merit pay, how realistic is it that our pay could actually be tied to test scores? Very realistic!
What is merit pay? Noun :extra pay awarded to an employee on the basis of merit (especially to school teachers)
What “think tank” thought up this idea, maybe the same one that stated that smaller class size doesn’t matter? I am amazed by what people (non-educators) come up with in order to hold teachers “accountable.” Or is it to make sure that the “better” teachers get what they deserve? No matter the reasoning behind this premise, it is ridiculous! I know it probably sounded like a good idea, but it is difficult to come up with criteria in the education field that would allow this idea to work.
Tie our pay to test scores? Are all students equal? I don’t think so. If that was the case, why would we need differentiated instruction? If Teacher A works in a school with struggling students and Teacher B works in a school with high achievers, does that make Teacher B a teacher who is deserving of merit pay, and Teacher A is not?
If Teacher A and B engage their students, and provide ample opportunities for their students to learn, but Teacher B has enough students that pass the test, does this mean Teacher B is a better teacher?
Or what if Teacher B does nothing but teach to the test, while Teacher A works to establish a well-rounded student? Is Teacher B going to get paid more if more of his/her students pass?
I believe that most teachers are dedicated, hard-working people, who don’t need to be “bribed” to do their job. Teachers don’t do what they do for money, that is obvious from the salaries we make. I partially agree with Arne Duncan, teachers should be paid up to $150,00. But pay them for all that they do, not because their students scored high enough on a test!
Some of my students wrote a letter for the state department’s Teacher Appreciation Day contest. After reading the letters, it gave me some insight as to what my students appreciate about me. I chose to use the letters as an informal evaluation tool to see what I am doing right,(or wrong). I found some of the responses quite amusing.:)
I hate standardized testing. I hate what standardized testing has done to teaching. SMH 😦 This is what it has driven me to!
1. A guy goes in for a job as a bubble filler.
He lets the boss know how he meets the requirements for the job.
“I can fill in bubbles really well. ”
” I’ve been taking standardized tests since I was in kindergarten.”
“I make sure the circle is filled in, no white showing, and no stray marks.”
The boss says, “You sound like just the person we need!”
The guy reaches over to shake the bosses’ hand, “I think this is going to work out just great!”
The boss pulls his hand back, “Did you say think?” “I’m sorry, we can’t use you.”
2. Bunch of guys sitting in an office.
“We have a huge order of scantron forms that need filling in!”
“OMG, how are we going to fill that order?!”
They put their heads together.
A woman shouts, “I got it!”, and picks up the phone.
The person answers on the other side, “Hello, Dumbdown Elementary, how can I help you?”
3. A principal walks into a classroom unannounced.
The students quickly try to stuff their lined paper in their desks.
He looks at the teacher. “What’s going on here Ms.Cannolongerteach?”
She stammers, “The kids wanted to see what it was like to use lined paper, they were tired of using grid paper or scantron forms.”
Kid starts crying. “Ms.Cannolongerteach was just giving us a break, Mr.Bringthescoresup! She didn’t mean any harm!”
“I’m sorry kids, but Ms. Cannolongerteach knew the rules. Pack your stuff and come with me Ms.Cannolongerteach.”
4.The students in the new teacher’s class, Mr.Icannolongerbecreative’s ,eagerly turn on their laptops.
“Okay everyone, we are going to create a video about WWII. Please go to the Photopeach site.”
As students click on the site, bells begin to sound on each laptop.
“Warning! Warning!” Creative learning taking place! Creative Learning taking place!”
School security bursts into the room.
Mr.Icannolongerbecreative stands pale and shaken.
“What’s going on?”, he shouts.
They put handcuffs on and drag him out.
“These laptops are for test-taking skills only!”, they yell vehemently.
“I didn’t know!”, he yells as they drag him down the hall, “I didn’t know!”
My team teacher and I were standing in the hallway this morning when she walked over and whispered, “If I were a kid with all this testing, testing, testing, I wouldn’t want to come to school either.” Gasp! No, actually, I know exactly what she means, school has become the most boring place in the universe for these poor kids.
A large percentage of our students are bored with school. Standardized testing is a huge culprit, along with its accomplice, data. When this is the focus of your classroom, hmmm… how can I say this politely? Your classroom is a huge yawn! And you can’t fully blame the teachers, by any means, their jobs are on the line, if they don’t tow the line. What are we to do?!
I just finished teaching a unit on Addition and Subtraction with large numbers, and I did not want to provide the students with a handout with 25-30 problems on it. Instead, I said to them, “I am giving you $5,000, and you can buy whatever you want!”
First reaction, “Are you really giving us $5,000?” 🙂 Um, no.
“I am going to let you shop on the Internet with $5,000. Use the exact amount, or as much of it as you can.”
We grabbed our pencils and notebooks and headed to the computer lab. They were so excited, they didn’t even realize I was actually checking out how much they had learned during the unit. We got to the computer lab and I let them loose! They collaborated w/o being told and it was amazing to watch and listen to them use their knowledge. The great part is (besides being tons of fun), was that it applied to many other standards that connect to real life.
“What sites can we go on?” (Appropriate sites)
“Should I buy the one with the sale?” (Making financial decisions)
“Mrs.M, I went over!” (Sticking to a budget)
AND, all the adding and subtracting you could ever need! I also let them use calculators to check their work. Of course, you don’t need a computer, newspaper advertisements would work just as well. The other 5th grade teachers loved my idea, (it’s not original), and they are going to use it tomorrow. Fun is infectious!:)
All this is to say, school should be a place students want to come . No, school doesn’t have to be fun all the time, but can’t it be fun sometimes?
The other day, I don’t remember why, we moved our desks. Instead of 6 groups of four, we ended up in two groups of 12. At some point during the day, my students asked me to leave the tables in two groups of 12. I took their request lightly, and began to dismiss it. But they pleaded, because they really enjoyed the new layout of the room. They began to support their request with strong reasons, and I relented. The desks stayed where they were, and have been like that for the last couple of days.
It’s their room too. I came to that realization that it can’t always be my way, I had to let them own their classroom. When I speak to my students, I make sure that I say “our classroom”, but I believe my words speak louder than my actions. I am certainly not a dictator, but I know now that I could loosen the reins a little more.
We have to allow our students the chance to make decisions. As difficult as it may be in this time of standardized testing. We have to allow them the chance to be part of the decision-making process. As the school year progresses, I am going to make a conscious effort to truly make it “our classroom.”Letting them decide the layout of the room was a big step for me, but I am loving it. They were right, there is more space.:)