AEA’s Stand: The idea of merit pay, also called pay for performance, in public schools is destructive. It is becoming one of the determining factors in whether teachers are judged a success or failure. Merit pay is paying educators for their performance based on test scores and performance-based tests. These tests measure only a narrow piece of the teacher’s work. In addition such plans pit employee against employee, especially when there’s a quota for merit increases. Some states use a variety of positive paths for teachers to gain financially including professional development, professional service commitment, and positive evaluation that is not directly tied to student test scores.
To base pay on performance alone that is linked to student test scores, when each teacher has different classes with different students with different learning styles and learning abilities is unfair. The whole idea of teaching is collaborative with teachers working together to determine the best way to reach students. With merit pay, teachers will cease to work together as a collaborative team. Schools will become competitive battlegrounds with teachers no longer willing to give their time and expertise to new teachers who are in need of mentoring.