Putting a movement on the ballot becomes political


The June 13 article "Merit Pay for City's Teachers a Large Change" illustrates what is wrong with education today. The question should not be, "Should we pay our excellent teachers more?" but rather, "Why should we pay mediocre or lesser teachers at all?"

A teacher's job is to teach. An administrator's job encompasses observation and evaluation. Every school district in Pennsylvania has an assessment procedure that is used to determine whether a teacher should receive a satisfactory or unsatisfactory rating for the school year. Teacher evaluation should be done on a set of known guidelines and, if an individual does not adequately meet those stated goals, a system of support should be instituted. If, in a specified period, the teacher cannot bring his or her instructional abilities up to par, why should any child's education be put at risk?

Evaluating teacher effectiveness by the No Child Left Behind Act and gauging "adequate yearly progress" by a set of arbitrarily prepared norms just lacks good judgment. Stating that "every child" will be "on grade level" does not take into account a student's strengths, weaknesses, learning styles, disabilities or ability levels.

Is a teacher who teaches advanced placement classes to accelerated students rated "excellent" and therefore paid more because those students score well on a standardized test? How do you then rate the teacher of the special needs student who does not show marked progress on that same, or even adapted, standardized test?

Using student performances on standardized tests to evaluate teachers is not rational.

By all means, pay all those really good teachers more, but realize that mediocre or lesser efforts by anyone in the education community should not be tolerated.

The writer is the former instructional support coordinator for the Shaler Area School District, with 34-plus years as an educator.

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