Video: The Merit Pay for Teachers Debate

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Northeast Mississippi (WCBI) — Should teachers who show a difference in their classrooms get a bonus? It’s called a “Merit Based System”. And lawmakers say they may consider it an option. WCBI’s Caresse Jackman talks to educators to see if they think it is a good idea.

Merit based pay is a hot topic this legislative session.

” I think we’ve got a pilot project out on merit-pay and we need to see results of that. Does it really work to give them a little extra money if they do a good job? And I think we’re going to find that they really do.”

Paying teachers based on their performance sounds nice, but some educators believe it is easier said than done.

“When you’re being based on just student performance, sometimes they get worried because what if you have a classroom, full of students that aren’t performing but you’ve really done a very good job working.”

Others argue Merit Pay favors successful districts, but there are problems there.

“The richer districts who can afford to pay their best teachers more will get more of the best teachers who are trying to come in from poorer districts. The other part that I think people don’t think about is if you’re at a school where the kids are top notch and they’re way above grade level, what is the room for growth? So if we’re basing it on growth, some kids if they’re already at the ceiling effect, there’s not going to be much room for growth if they’re really high.”

Despite the criticism, teachers say that it can be done, even in a failing school.

“I can remember one year there was a teacher who had done Teach for America. She had only been in the school district for 2 years and she was in a low performing school, actually selected her for Teacher of the Year. And with merit pay, there’s your incentive to stay there and to make a difference.”

Governor Phil Bryant has pushed for the Merit System. House Speaker Phillip Gunn says it may take another two or three years before anything is implemented. Gunn’s primary focus is getting an across- the -board raise passed this year.

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