Saturday, December 08, 2007

Merit Pay and Student Evaluations

Sure, there are flaws in this system--there are flaws in any system. But this idea is certainly novel.

I propose instead that institutions should empower graduating seniors to reward teaching excellence. Colleges should do this by giving each graduating senior $1,000 to distribute among their faculty. Colleges should have graduates use a computer program to distribute their allocations anonymously.

Be sure to read the comments, too, as they've probably already addressed many of the pros and cons of this topic.


Anonymous said...

There's a teacher at my school who teaches a senior course called "philosophy." The students talk about…themselves, mostly. They are encouraged to swear, talk about their drug use and sex lives, and enjoy the Bob Marley records he plays all hour while they're…talking. Their only graded assignment is an "autobiography" in which the students glue pictures of themselves partying and write inarticulate and largely incoherent captions about how much they hate their parents. The students think he is way cool. As they have him senior year, I imagine he'd get a lot of money under this scheme.

Then there's the sophomore biology teacher. She's got a PhD in biology. She's tough, focused, serious, and demanding. Her exams are comprehensive and hard. She doesn't punch up grades for "effort." Students have to, you know, study. She's way not cool. On the other hand, she's actually doing the job she's being paid to do. I imagine she'd get far less bonus money from the seniors.

How about a merit pay system in which graduates are invited to rate teachers ten years after they graduate, when the value of good teaching might be more apparent to them?

Ellen K said...

Interesting idea. It would force teachers to address students as consumers and to update their presentations accordingly. I know of teachers who are doing the same things today that they did twenty years ago. The only thing that bothers me is that there will be teachers campaigning for funds. And with the lower ethical standards in our society, I don't think it's out of reach to think that pay for grades could become a reality. I also don't know if I can handle the football coach making even more money than he does now. Ours is making three times what the average classroom teacher makes and only five thousand less than our building principal.

Darren said...

Your principal makes 3x what a teacher makes? No way!!!

allenm said...

Well anonymous, the reason teacher A is way cool, and continues to be employed and teacher B is way uncool and continues to be employed is that "public education" is what it's called, not what it is.

If the primary focus of the system were education then teacher A would be gone or have successfully responded to a bit of education. Since that hasn't happened it's safe to say that education isn't important enough in teacher A's school to warrant some professional re-education.

Teacher A could be dismissed as an aberration were anecdotal evidence not widely enough spread to indicate the problem is systemic to the concept of public education rather then just an individual school, school district or state public education system.

What all that means is that for merit pay to work changes need to be made to the public education system. Otherwise it'll just be twisted to fit the current state of affairs which, as teacher A makes pretty clear, isn't primarily about education.

Unknown said...

A lot of fraternities and sororities have been doing something like this for years.

Ellen K said...

He makes 96K with bonuses for making it to playoffs. There was a big story about it in the Dallas Morning News last year. The average starting teacher makes around 33K. And he doesn't teach another class either.