In Elementary School Or High School, Teachers Salary Should Be Performance Based

Published January 24, 2014
high school students on computer

Photo credit: Dept Of Ed.

A recent article in TheGlobeAndMail.com written by Caroline Alphanso condemns the tenure aspect of teacher’s pay and argues instead that teacher compensation should be strictly tied to teacher effectiveness; including classroom performance and student feedback. This argument stems from a recent report by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) stating that the current teacher compensation method is ineffective.

The report written by the CCCE dismisses the idea of merit pay based on student test scores, as is the case in the current education debacle based in the US; especially with regards to older children, like a high school teacher.

The report goes on to state:

Beyond the first few years of teaching, when effectiveness does appear to increase, there is no obvious reason why teachers should receive automatic yearly pay increases – and why a lazy and ineffective teacher should be paid the same as a hard-working, dedicated and effective teacher.”

The argument is that the current system which just rewards simply racking up time doesn’t make much sense if the end-result isn’t to create teachers who have simply been around for a long time, but to actually mold good educators who are capable of training up today’s youth. While this is admittedly harder with regards to elementary school teachers, in high school children can make an intelligent determination if they feel they have a good teacher or not.

The Cons

As with most things in life, this performance-based system will not be without fault. For starters, who is the ultimate decider of performance? Whoever is responsible for grading the performance of the teachers is inevitably going to have to deal with countless claims of prejudice, racism and many other forms of bias. That situation could be remedied by simply having a rubric with which to grade the teachers in a similar fashion to what they do with their students, but you run the risk of ending up in the same spot.

The second issue is that, from a student’s perspective, a good teacher may appear to be a bad teacher. A teacher who pushes hard, demands and expects a lot, and encourages children to learn may be seen as mean or overly-strict; they may however be exactly what the child needs.

Conversely, a laid-back teacher who expects or demands very little of his or her class but is funny and fun to be around may get great remarks while providing little in the way of educational value.

While none of these issues are ground breaking, there are definitely more things to think about. It just simply isn’t as simple as the 22 page report may make it appear to be. What is correct, however, is that we could definitely do much better than the current system. Perhaps as Canada begins to change it’s ways, other countries will follow.

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