I marked this story a couple of days ago. In my view, merit pay is such an obvious idea, not to mention merit hiring, merit promotion, and lack-of-merit firing, that I don’t see why it would be controversial, except, of course, amongst those who lack merit.
But there is one valid area of controversy–measuring merit. Whatever you tie merit to will be what teachers must strive for. If that’s graduation, you’ll get one result. If that’s success in college, you’ll get another. If it’s standardized tests, then you’re going to get people taught to pass the standardized tests.
But in my view the value of paying people by merit is so important that we need to work through the controversy of how to measure it. That pay should be by merit should be firmly fixed. Then we should find a mix of standards by which to measure such merit.
I’m personally not all that excited about standardized tests, but they do provide something that is less subject to manipulation. With a longer view, one could use measures of success after students leave school.
I must leave one caveat–I don’t trust the school board around here all that much, so I’m not sure that they would be paying for merit. I’m not sure they’d recognize it. Hmmm! Maybe we should do some “lack-of-merit” firing on school boards.