by Jim Lang
How should teachers be rewarded?
That was the question posed to me by my state senator, Ron Grooms, this morning. It’s a serious question with no easy answers.
We’ve all heard phrases like “merit pay” and “performance-based compensation” thrown around by those advocating education reform in Indiana and in other states. We’re also aware of what much of the research shows: that performance incentives like merit pay have little impact on students’ academic achievements. One look at the results of the 2010 National Center for Performance Incentives study from Vanderbilt University proves this.
I have always believed that those who support merit pay fundamentally misunderstand teachers. Quite simply, money doesn’t motivate most of us. If it did, we’d be using our considerable skills to make a lot more money in another profession. Most teachers I know will not be motivated to grade more papers, develop more exceptional lesson plans, or provide that extra time to a struggling student simply because of the promise of a financial reward. And I certainly do not think financial rewards should be provided based on our students’ test scores.
Still, Ron’s question remains, and I think it’s a perfect opportunity to get a discussion going while perhaps providing him some feedback.
So, to my teacher friends, fellow educators, parents, students, and anyone else who’s reading and who cares to comment, here are some questions to think about:
- What are your suggestions for rewarding exceptional teachers?
- How should this be measured and/or determined by local school corporations?
- What should our state legislators consider in determining how to reward good teachers?
Feel free to respond to any or all of the above questions in the comments section. If you feel comfortable doing so, let us know a little about your teaching experience and/or interest in Indiana education as well.
This should make for an interesting dialogue.