For the first time in a long time, Republicans now control the Indiana State legislature and it looks like education reform is high on the agenda. One element of the measures proposed is merit pay for teachers. In theory, I am very much in favor of rewarding our teachers astronomically for those who demonstrate massive giftedness in our public schools. I couldn't do what they do, given the behavior issues and ADHD environment.
Here's the deal. Merit pay is a bad idea if it is solely linked to student scores. This rewards the teachers who, either by politics or even incompetence manage to get the easy students. The biggest problem in the classroom is the massive behavior management issue, not the incompetence of teachers. Merit pay linked to scores does not take into account the incredibly gifted teachers who take on the children in our schools who are overwhelmingly likely to spend the majority of their life in prison or on the streets.
So merit pay is a great idea to me but only if it is administered in the light of a whole range of competencies. What we need more than anything right now is brilliant classroom managers. Almost anyone with a classroom full of "normal" children could improve test scores. There just aren't very many classrooms like that in the failing schools of Indiana.
P.S. There were only two passing schools in Marion last year and, because the failing schools shewed their worst and dullest to them, there may not be any passing schools this year. The problem is not the teachers; it's the kids as they have emerged from their "families."