The issue of teachers being paid in accordance with student standardized-test results, as outlined in Whoriskey’s (2006) article in the Washington Post is an issue of debate in today’s society. While advocates and those in opposition to the idea continue to deliberate, dispute and discuss the notion, and how a fair system can be developed for assessing the teachers that take historical and contextual factors into account as well as exam results, this paper will illustrate that the risks of such a proposal for students far outweigh the benefits.
The American government and advocates of the proposal, claim that monetary incentives will act as a motivator for teachers’ efforts and commitment to their profession, which will inherently provide better scores on standardized-tests because of the induced better teaching. Such a claim may hold truth or merit for some teachers, particularly younger and newer teachers who now have the opportunity of proving themselves and being recognized for their teaching abilities and not having to compete based on their qualifications and years of experience; this however, is the only foreseeable benefit I can see.
Risks on the other hand are plentiful; the major risk is that if teachers are rewarded according to student test outcomes, discrimination will be rampant; stronger students may be favored in preference to weaker students, minority students and those from poor economic backgrounds who bring their own extra baggage to the classroom; special education students who do not do well on standardized-tests will be discriminated against, as too will many gifted students for the same reason.
Teachers will favor the ‘better schools’ thus creating an even bigger shortage of good teachers for those schools considered as ‘lower’ or as accommodating students less educationally talented; discrimination could also encroach on subject choices and optional courses, even transference between schools, whereby high scoring students will be accepted in lieu of those attaining lower scores. Apart from discrimination, the focus on exam results will take teaching backwards not forwards; teachers will be encouraged to return to more traditional methods of teaching that teach to exams, eliminating the current student-centered approach.
The government, educators and all stakeholders need to step back and consider all facets of such a proposal and determine whether the negative impacts on students may prove too big a risk to proceed with such an option. References Whoriskey, P. (2006) Fla. To link teacher pay to students’ test scores, Washington Post, March 22. Retrieved 3 July, 2010 from http://www. washingtonpost. com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/21/AR2006032101545. html
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