Merit Pay In Education -A Case Study

Posted April 19th, 2012 @ 12:04 AM by

The Wausau Daily Herald recently penned an Op-Ed stating that under the last legislative session school reform "took a step forward"

The reforms establish a new system for teacher evaluations that is sensible and balanced. Student achievement — that is, test scores — now will be considered in teacher evaluations. But they won’t be the only factor considered; evaluations of principals and other teachers will count, too. Wisconsin needed a new way of approaching teacher evaluations, and this is an important step forward.

Another element of the reforms Walker signed into law in Wausau is to create a new state program aimed at bringing Wisconsin’s reading scores, which have been slipping relative to other states, back to the front of the pack. It will institute early literacy screening tests statewide that will help teachers to target those kids who need extra help and generally to use their teaching resources wisely.

The reforms aren’t perfect. The new laws don’t hold private voucher schools to the same accountability measures as public schools, which makes little sense. But that’s a minor fix and, we hope, one that will be tackled in the near future.

For the sake of our discussion here, we will overlook the fact that Governor Walker cut more money from education than any time in the history of our state and more than any other state. We will also overlook for today, the fact that they gave private voucher schools a pass, makes perfect sense and is not a minor fix. We will focus on this specifically:

The reforms establish a new system for teacher evaluations that is sensible and balanced. Student achievement — that is, test scores — now will be considered in teacher evaluations.

Now let us turn to a story out of Las Vegas, NV.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Las Vegas police say the bodies of two people were found in a house after a 9-year-old boy told school officials his mother and sister were dead.

Investigators are questioning a man found covered in blood at the home.

Officer Marcus Martin told The Associated Press on Monday that police arriving about 9 a.m. local time found two people dead inside the house in the West Las Vegas neighbourhood. Another child, a 4-year-old boy, was also inside, but he was not hurt.

No further details were available.

Martin says the 9-year-old boy told officials at nearby Hoggard Elementary School about the scene at the house.

Let us take some liberties and play this out. The 9 year old boy probably seen everything happen. He saw his family get slaughtered by someone he probably knew well. Instead of calling 911, a family member, a neighbor or anyone else, he went to school. The boy then probably went in and told the secretary, partly because she is the first on he sees and partly because she is so friendly, has been there every day he has been at the school and knows his name. The secretary would then call the principle and the social worker who would then take this crisis over and then call the police. That is of course if the school had the funds for a social worker. If not, maybe they have a psychologist. Let us also hope that the psychologist was not outside handling recess duty and the principal is available also.

Then after attempting to sort out the mess, and after the funeral, this boy will come back to school. The boy in the meantime, will hopefully have some strong, loving and willing family members to live with. If not he will possibly get shipped from foster family to foster family and county social worker to county social worker. If he is really lucky, his four year old brother will be in the same household each time with him. Now he finally goes back to school.

Again if he is lucky he will be placed in the same school district each time and be able to attend the same school. There is a very good chance that he has bonded with at least one person at this school. It is highly likely that this school,as he proved by heading there when his family was slaughtered, is the one constant in his life where he feels safe. Maybe, just maybe, there will be a teacher, janitor, SEA, etc… who this boy connects with and makes a difference in his life.

Case Study Questions:

Now the questions. Where is the success in this scenario? Will how a school handles a situation like thisfactor into the merit pay equation? Who takes gets credit for handling this situation? Is it the secretary? the social worker? psychologist? or maybe his third grade teacher that has reached him, which is why he felt school was the safe place to begin with? At what point should we sit this boy down to take a standardized test? How could a standardized test even remotely tell us anything that this boy is learning or doing as a student? Should we fire the teacher if this boy fails the test? What if by a collaborative effort, this boy is able to assimilate back into society and deal with the tragedy he has faced, yet scores poorly on standardized tests? Should that reflect poorly on the school?

This is one extreme example, but if you talk to people who are actually in the schools not that extreme. You can also take this to different areas. What of the child that was going to kill his/herself until that teacher praised them in class? Or the child who decided to really try at math and ended up becoming and engineer? Or the middle school girl who was sexually assaulted and has not told anyone but finally tells the school social worker because of their relationship. Or the child who could not fit in, until she took an art class and realized her passion? How do we measure all of these situations and many more? Has the republican legislature written that into the bill? Does anyone who is serious about “reforming education” really think that standardized tests are part of the solution? Do people understand how cutting local human services affects the local school also? Were any of these issues ever discussed in the “education reform” discussion? Do the politicians get that paying the money early on prevents us from having to spend more money later.


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