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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • COLUMN EDIGER: Is merit pay for teachers a good idea?

  • An issue that keeps coming up is merit pay for teachers.


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  • An issue that keeps coming up is merit pay for teachers.

    Thus, if pupils’ mandated test results show favorable increases, that teacher should receive increased remuneration. These teachers would be labeled as being excellent.

    It sounds easy but difficult to implement.

    Who are the better teachers?

    Do results reveal who these individuals are?

    Those teachers who teach motivated and high-achieving pupils would be deemed to be the better teachers as compared to those who have more slow learners in their classrooms.

    What about the following classroom situations?

    • I supervised university student teachers with 33 pupils in a relatively small classroom. The rows of seats were very close together, with barely enough walking space between each.

    Add to that situation eight pupils who lacked any motivation to learn what was being taught.

    The regular teacher felt somewhat discouraged with her teaching responsibilities. Would pupils do well enough on a standardized test for the teacher to receive merit pay?

    • Toward the other extreme, I supervised university student teachers where there were 13 pupils in a classroom.

    The student teacher and the regular teacher were able to truly emphasize reinforce theory by placing a Santa Claus stamp, in December, on each correct answer given by each pupil on a workbook page, making for five separate stamped items. That amounted to 65 stamped items in language arts alone!

    This can be done by two motivated teachers with 13 well-mannered pupils.

    In my doctoral dissertation, the results therein indicated how a lower pupil-teacher ratio aids pupils achievement. Why? More assistance can be given where needed to fewer pupils in the classroom.

    What hinders pupils from learning as optimally as possible, in addition to the two asterisked items above?

    • Poverty in the home and community setting. These pupils do not have the opportunities of experiencing quality reading materials in the home, parents setting an example by reading to themselves, traveling to interesting places, among others.

    Rich background experiences assist pupils to do well in school.

    There are, however, few selected individuals who have come from poverty homes and still succeeded in life, but this can be rare.

    • Abuse, in its diverse forms, from others, lack of safety, as well as poor-quality housing.

    • Lack of quality nutrition and supervision.

    • Not having a feeling of belonging within a support system.

    • Achievement and recognition needs unmet, the feeling one is a nobody.

    The school curriculum must meet the needs of pupils, individually and collectively.

    Individual abilities must be recognized, whatever these may be. Pupils need to be respected and accepted.

    No Child Left Behind has a narrow curriculum that mandates testing pupils in reading, mathematics and science. What gets tested is what gets taught.

    This eliminates art, music, social studies and physical education.

    There are pupils who have strong interests and capabilities in these areas.

    Good human relations and being able to live harmoniously with others, too, is of utmost importance.

    Last, and of utmost importance, is knowledgeable and highly competent teachers.

    Dr. Marlow Ediger, resides in North Newton.

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