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Comments about ‘Debate over teacher accountability heats up’

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Published: Wednesday, Sept. 19 2012 9:37 a.m. MDT

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Hutterite
American Fork, UT

We like going after the teachers, with their fat pay packets and summers off. But we never pay enough attention to the fact that a lot of their students are a big part of the problem. They're video game addled ADHD brats, living in a society that entitles them way too much. Johnny can't read because Johnny doesn't want to read and nobody wants to damage his self esteem and school is for nerdy jerks anyway, and any effort on the part of the teacher to get johnny to read is seen as bullying.

Joan Watson
TWIN FALLS, ID

One may agree with Hutterite's comments. And there is certainly much validitiy in that post. The best teachers however are the ones who can inspire students to enjoy learning and start them om a quest to thirst after knowledge. There is a fine art to teaching - and those who develop and know how to effectively educate young minds/students will have a greater success rate than those who dont.

RG
Buena Vista, VA

They say there are two sides to every story, and this case proves it. Some teachers really do a poor job, are lazy and/or incompetent. Given difficult situations, they give up too easily. But, it is unfair to compare test scores of teacher A's students, who have wealthy, two-parent, educated families, and test scores of teacher B's students, who come from broken homes with drug addicted guardians. It is true that teachers should be "inspirational" and motivate achievement, but that is much more possible with some students than others. Finally, to hold teachers more accountable for students's grades then students for their own grades (especially older, high school students) relieves students of their own accountability. It says to students that you can blame someone else for your poor performance. Some teachers may deserve criticism, but those who criticize ought to walk in their shoes for a while first. It is naive to think that all students are motivatable, although the best teachers can motivate more students.

Wonder
Provo, UT

As a parent, I've seen some fabulous teachers and some that really should not have been teaching. Because of that, I don't have a problem with merit pay for teachers. Most (all?) professionals other than teachers are paid based on merit. I don't believe merit pay should be based 100% (or even close to 100%) on student test scores since scores are not totally under the teacher's control (kids are not widgets.) I think principals know which teachers are doing a good job and which aren't. School districts could give the principal a flat amount of money to be distributed as the principal determines. Test scores could be one factor that the principal considers, but one of many, including observation and review of sampled student work. That said, I am not demeaning teachers in any way. I would pay them much more than they are currently being paid if it were up to me (and I back this up by voting for people that feel the same way.)

JWB
Kaysville, UT

It sounds very good to link performance with pay.

However, within the Federal Government, they tried that after many years of planning the process. How do you measure performance. It is not always that easy in a service type of industry as the government is. It had loop holes where the bosses friends got the better ratings due to how the performance plan and appraisal was written and who performed the rating and approval process.

After 4-5 years, after many complaints and union input into the process, Congress would not approve money for that program and the administration took it away for the Department of Defense.

Should it be graded so that the best teacher get's the prize? How do you judge what the best teacher is? Best test scores of the student's? So then the school districts that cheated to get paid better got low integrity scores? If they hadn't gotten caught no one would be the wiser. However, did the person who identified the cheating get a better performance for that job?

If you produce so many widgets that don't have faults is easy to judge. Dealing with many students isn't.

vdubbin'
Ogden, UT

Fat paychecks. That's rich. I love the sarcasm there. You know, being a teacher where I teach, I may see things a little differently than many of you. If our pay is merit based, then we are going to be paid (or not) based on students coming to me with 20% attendance, who just got back from a 2 month "vacation" to Mexico, and don't speak any English. Is that right? How much can an "exemplary" teacher do to counter that set of circumstances? It's like saying a doctor should be paid based on his treatment record for patients he talks to over the phone while they lie about their symptoms. It's absurd, and before people say "this is a great idea", they should put a little more thought into what exactly a system like this would look like. You want great, experienced teachers? Why would anyone stay teaching when we are penalized for fundamental breakdowns in life and the lack of importance placed on education by the family which necessarily impact our ability to do our job?

Wonder
Provo, UT

@vdubbin -- I agree with you for the most part -- you are exactly right about not having control over your kids and their circumstances and that affects how they perform in school. But I still think merit pay would work. It would just have to be given based on more subjective standards and not on objective standards like test scores. But that's how it is for everybody who is a professional. I'm a lawyer. As a young lawyer I was paid based on how well the partners I worked with thought I was performing. There was no objective criteria. They just determined how I was doing and gave me raises based on what they thought. Same with accountants in accounting firms. Your boss decides how much of a raise you should get and that's what you get. Why shouldn't teachers be treated the same way? Maybe there's a reason, and if so, let me know. I think good teachers are priceless and I would pay them way more than they get now. I think it would increase morale to be paid more as a reward for doing a great job.

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