Cobb schools should avoid pay for performance
October 21, 2013 11:00 PM | 1210 views | 5 5 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DEAR EDITOR:

At a board meeting the middle of September, the Marietta Board of Education unanimously approved the idea of “pay for performance” for all of their teachers. Your readership, specially teachers, school administrators, parents, grandparents, and even students, would very much appreciate an in-depth feature article by the MDJ with the specific details on just how this concept is going to be implemented.

So, does this mean that there is going to be even more testing than is already present in the classroom? We can only deduce that this is probably the case. So, do members of the school board really believe that standardized testing is an accurate and true picture of a student’s knowledge in a specific subject area, on one given day, and that the teacher is totally responsible for that knowledge? It would be great if this were true, however, there are many variables that go into test taking by a student.

On test day, the child may be hungry because of no breakfast, overtired because he/she was awake most of the night because of chaos in the home, or emotionally upset because of the way he/she was treated that morning on the school bus. Many other students may just not be good test takers because of the intense concentration required to complete an answer sheet. Most all standardized tests are now done with Scrantron scoring. They must not fold, tear, or bend the answers sheet. They must read the multiple choice question in a test booklet, pick out the right answer, and then the student must “bubble in” COMPLETELY oval after oval, after oval with a No. 2 pencil on the separate answer sheet.

It is very easy, especially for elementary kids, to lose their place so that the test booklet and the answer sheet are not on the same question, thus making most answers incorrect. Because most test are timed and must be completed before the teacher says, “STOP,” older students often become overwhelmed by the volume of questions, and in an effort to finish, “bubble in” answers without ever reading the questions. More teaching time and less test taking time would seem to be far more productive for student learning if that is the true goal of education!

How are teachers in specialty areas, like art, music, P.E., speech, and Special Education going to be “rated” for their performance? Are we going to test each child in each one of these areas to see if they have “improved” their singing ability or ability to sketch a landscape drawing? How will administrators’ pay be handled? Would their pay be based on the entire population at the school? Then no principal would want any Special Education students (deaf, vision impaired, learning disabled, autistic, physically and mentally handicapped) located in their building as this population often has difficulty with the mechanics of standardized test taking. This would only bring down their test scores and thus the administrator’s pay.

There are many unanswered questions that need to be addressed. We look forward to seeing your newspaper researching this topic, questioning the Marietta City Schools, and reporting back to concerned citizens on the specifics details of this trendy idea called “pay for performance.”

Let’s hope the members of the Cobb County Board of Education do a whole lot more research before they even consider following in the footsteps of Marietta City Schools regarding teachers’ pay.

Sue Lake

West Cobb
Comments
(5)
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on balance
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October 22, 2013
Teachers should be paid for performance only if they get to choose the students they want in their classes.

Ellen Chambers
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October 22, 2013
Then no principal would want any Special Education students (deaf, vision impaired, learning disabled, autistic, physically and mentally handicapped) located in their building as this population often has difficulty with the mechanics of standardized test taking.

Um, no. Special education and anti-discrimination laws allow for students with special needs to receive the accommodation they need in order to demonstrate their knowledge. If they cannot fill in bubbles, then that should be accommodated for my the test being given over a longer period of time, in large print, with a scribe who will mark their answers on the answer sheet as directed by the student.

The real problem is that schools nationwide routinely deny students with disabilities these testing accommodations in the second place, and often deny them the teaching services they need in order to learn at a rate commensurate with their ability in the first place. Avoiding pay for performance allows these conditions to continue unchecked.

Ellen M. Chambers, MBA

Special Education Activist

Massachusetts
Former Teacher
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October 23, 2013
As a former teacher of students in special education, I know firsthand just how badly the special education system is broken in American public schools. The incredibly expensive unfunded mandates of special education, and the small percentage of special education students who are allowed to be horribly disruptive, are a big part of the problem with public schools. Unfortunately, parents of students in general education don't have nearly the number of lobbyists or 'activists' out there advocating for their interest, so the voice of the majority is drowned out.
anonymous
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October 22, 2013
Sounds like you need directions to the nearest cheese shop
Ellen Chambers
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October 23, 2013
Cheese shop? Explain. I don't get it.
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