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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 29, 2009 at 10:54 AM

Merit pay for teachers

How is it determined?

Isabel D’Ambrosio [“Performance pay for teachers: a basic way to reward success,” Northwest4 Voices, March 24] and others seem to favor merit pay for teachers. But they never once, even by accident, suggest how to determine “merit.”

Is a teacher with more degrees worth more? Is a bad science or math teacher better than a great history teacher? Do you judge the teacher by the school — i.e. good school equals good teacher? Do you test the students in every subject twice a year to see if the teacher merits more or less pay?

D’Ambrosio says teachers must “accept being evaluated.” Just to set the record straight, teachers are formally evaluated by their supervisor twice each year. I have a drawer full of positive evaluations … suppose next year I have a different evaluator: Should my pay be cut if the new evaluator likes a different style of teaching?

Please people, if you have suggestions that include some kind of knowledge of the subject and realistic, pragmatic and descriptive suggestions for judging merit, have the courtesy to explain them and leave off the vague, normative or utopian prescription.

— Robert DuChaine, Buckley

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