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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  • by sherry on Mar 24, 2008 at 06:46 PM
    I'M GLAD THEY SAID NO NO .teachers need to do their JOB.
  • by Me Location: Texoma on Mar 24, 2008 at 02:36 PM
    Is there a list showing which schools opt out? There has to be a better way than just standardize testing. Some kids do not test well. Mine are that way. It is hard to judge everything by just taks testing.
  • by Educator Location: North Texas on Mar 24, 2008 at 10:00 AM
    Just remember, a manufacturer can "cull" out the bad ingredients before ensuring a perfect product. Educators take all the ingredients and yet are being forced to produce a perfect end result regardless. Hmmm. Not quite a fair picture when trying to compare.
  • by Republican Location: ?? on Mar 24, 2008 at 06:48 AM
    Just a quick question - What is your profession ?
  • by Republican in Ardmore Location: Ardmore on Mar 23, 2008 at 11:48 PM
    I feel that the students best interests outweights the interests of the teacher. Our childern deserve the best teachers that the district can find and hire, not someone who is there for a pay check and because they're afraid that their students will not perform well on standardized tests. I think merit pay weeds out the low performing teachers and teachers that shouldn't be teaching in the first place. Also, teachers can assess their own job performance and make correction and improvements as a teacher to better educate their students.
  • by Bhindi Location: Denison on Mar 23, 2008 at 10:00 PM
    I have seen fellow teachers literally throw a party in the teachers' lounge when students that would have bombed the TAKS moved to another state. Giving merit-based pay would increase this type of behavior.
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