I’m sharing my blog today with Jill Kerper Mora, associate professor emerita at the School of Teacher Education at San Diego State University. She is blogging about why she believes merit pay based on student test scores won’t work. For another viewpoint, check out our earlier Blogger for a Day, local attorney Tyler Cramer. This is her second post.
These are her views, not mine, so if you have comments, questions or counterarguments, please e-mail Jill directly at email@example.com. Don’t forget to tell her if she can use your name to respond to your points in a blog post! — Emily Alpert
This morning, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced a special legislative session focusing on education that he hopes will establish merit pay for teachers based on students’ test scores to meet the requirements of the federal Race to the Top initiative. The Governor states that he does not want California to miss out on the federal stimulus monies. Legislators could vote by October to overturn the law that currently prohibits the use of students’ test data for evaluating and compensating teachers so that the state is eligible to submit a Race to the Top grant.
What is likely to happen during this special legislative session and in the future if the law regarding merit pay based on linking judgments about teachers’ performance to their students test scores? This is very likely to be a very contentious battle. Teachers, both individually and collectively, have a great deal at stake in this debate. Although Mr. and Mrs. Average Citizen may not realize it, so does the public at large.
Our legislators will be under enormous pressure to comply with federal guidelines in order to make the state’s schools eligible for federal funds, while the California Teachers Association must be responsive to the opinions and concerns of its members. At the heart of the matter is the issue of how dramatic changes in the way teachers are evaluated for employment action and pay increases will affect both teachers’ work lives and student achievement. Is it reasonable to impose an evaluation system on teachers and principals through force of law to which they are strongly opposed?
As I described in this morning’s post, the use of students’ test scores in determining teachers’ relative “merit” is fraught with difficulties and pitfalls. Somehow, the Obama administration’s education officials have concluded that merit pay will lead to improved teacher effectiveness, which in turn will lead to improved academic achievement, and closure of the infamous “achievement gap” between students from economically well-off and their underprivileged peers, mostly poor, minority and non-English speaking students.