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Merit Pay Essay

880 words - 4 pages

Introduction Merit pay has been a very popular, and controversial, topic in the education circles in recent years. It is a way in which educators are financially compensated for perceived higher levels of job performance. There are a number of different ways that this can be implemented. Some of these are merit-based salary schedules, bonuses, and incentive pay. School districts can tie in the various forms of merit pay into the regular salary schedule or develop a separate pay scale.Presently, Merit Pay is based on achieving specified goals and that determines the amount of benefits that the teacher receives. These goals are generally attached to the results of criterion-referenced or standardized tests. Some programs require that teachers create their own objectives and fulfilling these goals will entitle the teacher to Merit Pay. It can also be given to the teachers that show effectiveness based on input criteria (teacher performance). Some input criteria include knowledge of subject matter, instructional techniques, student management, and professional growth (Ellis, 1984). In addition to goal achievement based Merit Pay, it can also be based on a teacher having additional responsibilities, perfect attendance, and working at a high priority location. Frequently, merit pay is also called incentive pay.Before a district decides to go with a merit pay based system, the board of education should create a committee made up of board members, administrators, and classroom teachers to research the topic and design recommendations for possible approval. Teachers are the key to this process because if they are not involved in every phase of the planning, the central administration of a district will meet heavy resistance. "Unless you plan carefully and include your entire teaching corps in an evaluation plan that it helps develop, your merit pay plan is doomed to failure." (Ellis, 1984).FACTS The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) did a series of articles based on Merit Pay. Their research showed that most incentive plans have used supervisor evaluations to judge individual teacher performance, relying on a school principal's review in distributing rewards (AFT, 2000). Incentive programs that offer financial rewards have come under heavy criticism. Many experts have said that a variety of different Merit Pay based systems have been attempted and discarded since the concept was first developed and that fraud has prevented any such programs from leading to actual gains in student achievement (AFT, 2000).Other problems with Merit Pay based systems have been discussed. The possibility of Merit Pay programs discouraging teachers from working with low and underachieving students is a real issue that needs to be addressed. Also,...

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