Saying 'no' to merit-based pay

By: Stephanie Brletic Email
By: Stephanie Brletic Email

DENISON, Tex. -- Most schools return from Spring Break on Monday still recovering from the TAKS Test held during the first week of March. Some districts pay teachers more when their students do well, but several area schools are saying "no."

Standardized tests can be grueling. Students and teachers prepare all year for the TAKS test, but paying teachers for good students scores has drawn controversy in Texas. Many schools have opted out of the program.

Here in Texoma, Denison has refused the incentive.

"All 10 campuses voted against participation and the reason they did is because they're trying to foster teamwork and collaboration among the staff,” says Henry Scott, Denison ISD superintendent. “They see it as being diving rather than uniting."

Scott says the pay is often based on standardized test scores, like TAKS, so teachers from the physical education, art and music departments could be excluded.

Teachers also feel it's unfair for a teacher to be judged solely on test scores, according to the Texas State Teacher’s Association website. They say educators often face factors that can't be controlled in the classroom, like students of different backgrounds, languages, home environments and learning ability.

Some in our community say they completely disagree with teacher merit pay because there are too many factors involved.

"When a teacher goes out and does her very best, or evens his very best job, and if the results aren't there, for no reason of his or her own, then it looks bad for them. They don't get their merit raises. They don't get what they really deserve, no matter how hard they're trying," says Johnny Pruett, a local resident.

"I think the teachers are there because they want to be there, and they're going to do the best job that they can do no matter what," says Robin Goracke, a resident who opposes merit-based pay.

Scott says he'd rather see the state scrap merit pay and set aside money to fund increases in teacher's salary.

"Our teachers are paid way below the national average, is to bring them up to the national average in salary because I don't believe it makes any difference at all in how hard our teachers work. If they got another $1500, I don't think it would make any difference," Scott says.

The Texas State Teacher's Association website says at least 57% of districts have opted out of this plan.

Sherman ISD is still deciding whether or not to participate in the program. Officials are getting feedback from their campuses and are expected to make a decision in the next few weeks


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