My reflections after reading Brenda Iasoveli’s article “Merit Pay for Teachers Can Lead to Higher Test Scores for Students, a Study Finds” published on April 11, 2017

Yura Ganjalyan
 

The article interested me a lot, and I wanted to search for other opinions, other points of view on the Internet, because the way they are trying to solve this issue in Armenia isn’t perfect either.

If I was asked to try to summarize Brenda Iasoveli’s article by giving the main idea of Matthew Springer’s study in one sentence, I would say: “The author of the study, Matthew Springer, has come to the conclusion that the fairest, most eligible and easily calculable way of giving merit pay to teachers is taking into account the students’ test scores”.

While searching for other opinions I came across Bingyu Zhao’s, a Chinese educator, article ““Merit Pay” in Education” in the educational blog “Education Policy Talk”. She writes: Merit pay system aims to motivate teachers to improve themselves and put more efforts into teaching. At the same time, merit pay system can create a competitive environment among teachers, whereby teachers compete with each other through students’ grades. With this system, the ideal outcome would for students to have good grades and for teachers to teach efficiently”. Bingyu Zhao goes on writing that this system of merit pay also receives some criticism and mentions Canadian teacher Joe Bower’s opinion about it: “…One of his main arguments is that merit pay requires the education systems to pursue measurements such as standardized testing, and additionally encourages teachers who have chosen a career of public service to focus on extra rewards such as pay. Meanwhile, he thinks that merit pay will change teachers’ attitudes towards students, which means teachers will regard students as test scores increasers instead of real students.

I myself fully agree with Joe Bower’s opinion. Too much motivated standardized testing may extrude the necessity of critical and creative thinking in education. But there is also another very strong argument against the merit pay system based on the students’ test scores. This merit pay system can’t be considered fair in the countries where private tutoring has very deep roots. Private tutoring in many countries of the world has been studied and analyzed by Mark Bray, and the results of these analyses and studies are shown in his book entitled “Confronting the shadow education system. What government policies for what private tutoring?”   Mark Bray has come to the conclusion that in many developed and developing countries great is the role of private tutors in learners’ knowledge and skills acquisition. Bearing this evidence-based conclusion in mind, can we consider the merit pay system based on the students’ test scores to be fair?   

Bingyu Zhao writes that merit pay is practiced in China too, but the criterion for calculation of the merit pay amount for each teacher is defined according to the length of his/her teaching work experience. That is the reason why young teachers in China get much less salary than older ones. As Bingyu Zhao writes: “It seems unfair to those new teachers who perform well in their teaching, which is a potential threat for the merit pay plan in China.”

One thing is certain: in many countries of the world they are trying to find fair ways for giving merit pays to public school teachers, but they fail to do it. But does the world know how this problem is settled down at Yerevan “Mkhitar Sebastatsi” Educational Complex? Teachers at the schools of our Ed complex are given merit pay for some extra work which is factual, calculable and favors the realization of the author, alternative educational programs. Everything is fair: do at least one of these work activities and get your merit pay. Here is the list of extra work activities:

·         Educational program development

·         Educational research work

·         Study-assessment of educational work

·         Educational project coordination

·         Leading Educational trips

·         Participation in educational camps

·         Educational exchange projects, projects of spreading the author educational programs

·         Conducting teacher training courses, mentoring work

·         Coordinating the projects within the framework of “Educational Garden”

·         Coordinating the projects defined by the Educational Calendar

·         Management and coordination of the reviews, exhibitions and PleinAirs

·         Translational work

·         Some other work by civil law contract     

         

 

 

The following sources were used:

·         Merit Pay for Teachers Can Lead to Higher Test Scores for Students, a Study Finds, Education Week, April 11, 2017

·         Merit Pay in Education

·         Confronting the shadow educational system  What government policies for what private tutoring?

·         «Մխիթար Սեբաստացի» կրթահամալիրում մանկավարժական աշխատողի աշխատավարձի ձևավորման միասնական ցուցանիշներ, 2016 թ.

·         «Մխիթար Սեբաստացի» կրթահամալիրում լրիվ աշխատաժամանակով դասավանդողի աշխատաժամանակի կառուցվածք

 

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