Can evaluation system really be fair?

Dear Editor,
I would like to respond to the Jan. 21 editorial

Merit-based pay for teachers
– yes!

I was particularly interested in the section that stated,

The real question isn’t should teachers be rewarded by merit,
but how merit should be determined.

This would be my question as well.
Dear Editor,

I would like to respond to the Jan. 21 editorial “Merit-based pay for teachers – yes!” I was particularly interested in the section that stated, “The real question isn’t should teachers be rewarded by merit, but how merit should be determined.” This would be my question as well.

Teacher #1 has a student named “Joey.” “Joey” is a student who disrupts the classroom on a regular basis. The other students are afraid of him. As a result, “Joey” sits apart from the other students while in class and must be closely monitored during recess and lunch. The teacher has contacted the parent, given varying consequences, and referred the student to the office. The principal has had meetings with the parent, but with limited success because the parent feels the school is picking on her child. “Joey” is still in the same school because there is no other place for him to go.

Teacher #2 has no behavior problems. These students come to school every day eager to learn and eager to please. Unfortunately, they have learning problems that impair their ability to process information. Despite using a variety of strategies, the teacher cannot “make” them learn any faster or better, but constantly encourages them to reach their maximum potential.

Teacher #3 has an advanced class. Every student enrolled in the class has come ready to learn. Every student does the homework and most will go beyond the regular assignment for the sheer love of learning. Every student has tremendous support at home and there is a sense of shared responsibility between the teacher, the student, and the parents.

When it comes to test time, all the students take the same standardized test. The students who had teacher #3 have the highest scores and the greatest gain from the previous year. Now what?

What I need to know is how performance would be measured because measuring it purely in terms of test scores is not the answer. If every teacher started with the same kind of students, that is, of equal intelligence, knowledge, skills, and motivation, it would be easy to measure the results. But that is not the case. How would we account for all those differences?

Michelle Nelson,

President, Gilroy Teachers Association

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