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View Diary: Another Bad Idea: Houston to tie teachers' pay to test scores (76 comments)

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  •  Great idea! (none)
    If teachers get to choose their students (which is, after all, what the elite private schools get to do). Otherwise, how about patching the leaky roofs first?

    Here's an idea: tie ADMINISTRATOR pay to test scores and leave the teachers alone. Houston has a long history of overpaid administrators and overworked teachers.

    Here's another idea: eliminate the education degree and require content specialization. Anyone who has ever taken an education course knows how ridiculous they are. Read child developmental psychology if you want extra insight but the ability to teach is innate in the species (and you see it the behavior of most social mammals); we had to be to survive. By far the best teachers I had were in college, where highly intelligent content specialists in love with their subject matter and in love with teaching made just about every course I ever took come alive. (The exception was JCL/360 machine language; no one could make screwing with that crap less painful.) Not one of them had ever taken an education course and to a person they were better than any teacher I had in secondary or elementary school.

    •  If teachers could choose their students... (none)
      I am in the Houston area, but not in HISD where this program is being initiated.  I also teach at a suburban alternative school for junior and high school students, and have for the past 13 years.  I teach there by choice, and we like to say that our school is the best-kept secret in the district--in any district, really.  The kids are "at-risk" of not graduating for a variety of reasons, teen parenthood, truancy, and lack of basic academic skills being at the top of the list.  I love teaching there because a) the classes are small (my largest this semester is 15) and b) I feel like I can really make a difference in these kids' lives.

      That being said, my school does an outstanding job on the TAKS test.  In fact, our principal just told us that the state "report card" for our school topped the district for percentage gains in all four testing areas.

      A few years ago, the district announced that each campus which exceeded expectations would receive a "bonus pay" for each teacher on the staff, and smaller bonuses for each staff member--cafeteria, library, etc...

      Our campus, once again, had outstanding results that year, but because we are the "alternative school" and are apparently "graded" on some other criteria, imagine how thrilled we teachers were on "Bonus Day."  We learned of other colleagues in the district receiving their $500 or $750 or $1000 or whatever it was when our administrators brought our staff a big basket of candy and an "Atta Boy!"


      Alternative school teachers who work with the kids no one else wants in their classes always get screwed in programs like this.  (And before you ask, no, we don't get "combat pay," either, for working with the most unruly or difficult kids.)

      As to whether or not they do well on TAKS testing day, it honestly doesn't matter whether or not I've taught them what they need to know.  Their performance is in large-part based on whether they worked until midnight the night before, were out partying with their friends, sleep through the test, or even show up for the test.  I can prepare them every single day, but if parents aren't making sure that little Johnny's not out smokin' crack till 4 a.m., my efforts will not have much result.

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