A performance-based pay system for teachers, based on their students’ test scores, is a great idea if we lived in a perfect world. If all students came to school having eaten a nutritious, well-balanced breakfast with their mom and dad at the breakfast table, then maybe. If every child had a good night’s sleep in a nice bed by themselves in their own room, then perhaps. If each and every student spent their summer vacation on a trip to Washington, D.C., visiting all the monuments, the Capitol, Mt. Vernon and then Williamsburg, well possibly.
Unfortunately many kids come to school without having eaten a thing for breakfast with the caregiver (single mom, grandmother, aunt, sibling) long gone to work, and having slept on an air mattress on the floor with two other siblings, and with nobody to ever help them with their homework. Oftentimes, these same students spend the summer alone in front of a T.V. and never leave their house, let alone go on any kind of vacation.
And we want to reward teachers for high test scores from their students and thus punish teachers who have students with low test scores! Where is the logic in this when there are so many other variables? The classroom teacher is only one, I repeat one, factor in a student’s ability to learn information and to perform well on a standardized test! There are so many other factors that affect a child’s ability to read, learn, perform well, pay attention, absorb information and be a good test taker. In fact, in some colleges, they even have a class on “Factors Affecting Student Performance.”
It’s not just the teacher that influences student performance.
So if this pay system were to be put in place, what teacher is going to want to teach these kids who have no one to ever help with their homework, don’t own a computer, never go on a vacation, and don’t perform well on standardized tests? Probably only those fresh out of college, desperate for any school system that would hire them. Yet these special students are the ones who need the experienced teacher the most.
Plus, pay for performance would just increase “teaching to the test” within the classroom. Teachers have already been robbed of a lot of their creativity by the rigid curriculum requirements. Let’s not put even more pressure on them by expecting them to single-handedly produce high, or even improved, test scores for every student in their classroom.
Pay for performance for teachers is just not realistic because so many different aspects go into student learning and their ability to perform well on a specific day on a specific standardized test.