The Instigator
alto2osu
Con (against)
Winning
24 Points
The Contender
feverish
Pro (for)
Losing
14 Points

A teacher's pay should be merit-based.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 7 votes the winner is...
alto2osu
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/16/2009 Category: Education
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 11,995 times Debate No: 7862
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (43)
Votes (7)

 

alto2osu

Con

Though I believe this resolution to be fairly self-explanatory, allow me to clarify just a bit:

1) Merit-based: based upon a system of student achievement to be defined by the affirmation. As long as the advocacy doesn't switch and student achievement is fairly defined, I'm all set with it.

2) Student achievement: a quantitative measurement of the attainment or mastery of academic skills (for example)

Brief resolutional analysis:

1) We are talking about teachers of public schools in the US. We aren't limiting it by grade, but we are limiting it by country. Having to argue about schools in Zimbabwe is a waste of our time :D

As I've adopted the negation's stance, I will allow my opponent to lay out his/her case prior to posting mine.

I also really like the idea of a cross-ex opportunity in the comments. Can we do that if questions arise? They won't be considered offensively within the debate unless introduced to the debate page, but it'll be a good way to clarify/strategize.

Have at me!
feverish

Pro

Thanks to my opponent for instigating this debate.

I argue that a teacher's pay should indeed be merit-based, which I define (as agreed to by my opponent in the Comments section) as pay with a basic salary and bonuses based on merit (student achievement.)

I point out that I believe in western society today, our teachers are under-valued, under-appreciated and under-paid. I certainly do not propose reduction in any teacher's salary but instead, I would like to see those who perform best rewarded even more.

Student achievement. I think it is important to recognise that this should apply not merely to getting the highest marks or the most number of A-grades in a class but should rather be a measurement of the 'distance-travelled' by pupils. I think it is far more of an achievement to turn an F-student into a C-student than it is to turn a B into an A. I do not advocate a meritocracy that focuses solely on the elite but one that places emphasis on every child.

My simple argument is that to give teachers further financial incentive to concentrate on getting the best out of every single pupil would, overall, have significant benefits to any country. A more educated general population would surely be a good thing in anyone's eyes, especially someone who, like my opponent and myself, is involved in Education.

My opponent wants us to limit the parameters of this debate to the US. As a UK citizen who has not travelled a great deal I of course have more experience of the education system here than in America. However if I offer any anecdotal or other evidence regarding the UK school system, my opponent can rest assured that I will try to make them relevant to our discussion of the US system which, by the way, I hope to learn more about in this debate.

Performance related pay is a powerful tool in Employment. While it is suitable for many jobs it is not suitable for all. One obvious example of a field where it works well is Sales, (although of course I do not equate commerce with education), if travelling salesmen and (in some situations) retail staff, did not receive a commission on their sales, then they would be unlikely to put in as much effort to sell their employer's product.
An example of a less appropriate field would be police-work. Rewarding an officer on their number of arrests or conviction rates does not seem a good idea to me as this would encourage them to be over-zealous and perhaps even tempt them into corruption and tampering with evidence as well as criminalizing more of the general population.

I think teaching is an appropriate profession to apply performance related pay to as the benefits would clearly outweigh any negative impact. I would like my opponent to explain why it is not and what negative effects she believes that it would have.

Thankyou.
Debate Round No. 1
alto2osu

Con

I'd like to thank my opponent for his thoughtful and well-rounded first round post. I'll begin with my arguments, and then address each piece of my opponent's advocacy.

1. As my opponent acknowledges in his case, nations need more educated children. In order to meet this goal, most nations, and all first world nations, have responded by creating universal assessment tools to gauge student achievement in its public schools. The result has been standardized tests, generally built by states/localities and given to students each year. The federal government then examines the scores of these tests. Per almost all current educational research, these tests are statistically and empirically non-indicative of student achievement, progress, or even potential, which many in the educational field argue cannot be tested or measured.(1) Therefore, there is no way to accurately measure student achievement in a way that is politically viable and accurate, as the political climate of today demands hard numbers, which are impossible to deliver.

2. Grades and corresponding GPAs are equally unreliable for a number of reasons. Teachers, like police officers, directly control all evidence of their merit. Without severe and monumentally expensive supervision, teachers will always be able to corrupt assessment results, even on statewide exams, to increase their pay. There are countless cases of teachers who have manipulated grade systems or test systems for their own benefit. Even state governments have been accused of and confessed to "dumbing down" assessment tools in order to secure monetary benefits or administrative stability. When was it that the number of teachers and governments attempting to cheat assessment tools began to exponentially rise? 2000, when the Bush administration fielded and implemented the No Child Left Behind Act, which directly tied these assessment tools to merit-based benefits for schools.(2)

3. If being judged by a state or nationwide standard, historically and empirically low-performing schools are distinguished by socioeconomics, geographical location, and ethnic background. Urban schools and rural schools routinely get the short end of the educational stick. Those schools are underfunded due to high levels of poverty, they are unable to pay teachers as much so they get poorer quality of teachers, less resources, and less face time with students. Naturally, they will consistently underachieve with standards that cannot physically be met in these schools. Educational research confirms that this is so. Teachers know this, too. This is why the federal government has had to begin offering numerous incentives for highly qualified teachers to take jobs at rural and urban schools, include college loan forbearance, loan forgiveness, and tax incentives. All of this work to get good teachers into the areas where they are needed most, to catch up decades of consistently mediocre education, will be reversed by the merit pay system, since the students in these disadvantaged areas will never perform as highly in quantifiable assessments as advantaged students.

4. The impacts of merit pay are clear. Highly qualified teachers will take positions in schools where they can achieve. Mediocre teachers (the ones left) will take positions in the schools that need highly qualified teachers instead. This will lead to the above-mentioned corruption within the education system in order to gain merit pay, even as high as the state level. This will affect student achievement in myriad, terrible ways.

(1): http://www.fairtest.org...
(2): http://www.susanohanian.org...

Note: these are what I have on hand. I have many more extensive, specific studies if you like :)

And my opponent's case:

Quick note on outside-of-US anecdotal evidence: as long as the example could reasonably be applied to the US, my opponent can introduce any evidence he likes.

"I point out that I believe in western society today, our teachers are under-valued, under-appreciated and under-paid. I certainly do not propose reduction in any teacher's salary but instead, I would like to see those who perform best rewarded even more."

1. Very true. However, the affirmation's plan will only entrench this mistreatment, as it will clearly discriminate against certain teachers based solely on the area in which they choose to teach.

"Student achievement. I think it is important to recognise that this should apply not merely to getting the highest marks or the most number of A-grades in a class but should rather be a measurement of the 'distance-travelled' by pupils."

2. This is, indeed, a valid part of student achievement. Unfortunately, there is no way to measure this, along with all of the other facets of academic achievement, in a universal way, which is what merit-based pay would entail for the purposes of accountability.

"Performance related pay is a powerful tool in Employment. While it is suitable for many jobs it is not suitable for all."

3. Teaching is inherently different than sales, and this is important to note in reference to merit pay. Sales commissions are based on a quantifiable standard: did the person make the sale? Yes: that representative will get a percentage of the commission. No: no commission. First of all, educational achievement and potential cannot be quantified in nearly the same way. The only way to universally quantify it is to use standardized testing, which fails miserably to prove any sort of academic achievement.

"An example of a less appropriate field would be police-work. Rewarding an officer on their number of arrests or conviction rates does not seem a good idea to me as this would encourage them to be over-zealous and perhaps even tempt them into corruption and tampering with evidence as well as criminalizing more of the general population."

4. In a similar vein, teachers and states alike have freely admitted to corrupting test results or corrupting the test itself. Several states have been found to manipulate test difficulty, format, and content in order to ensure more passing students. This only happened when the No Child Left Behind Act was enacted under the most recent Bush administration, in which funding and school functionality became tied in the same merit-based way to academic success based on universal, quantifiable academic assessment tools that are in and of themselves deeply flawed.

"I think teaching is an appropriate profession to apply performance related pay to as the benefits would clearly outweigh any negative impact. I would like my opponent to explain why it is not and what negative effects she believes that it would have."

5. The negative impacts are outlined in my case, and affect both students and teachers. Teachers will be paid less for working in certain socioeconomic, geographic, and ethnic locations. Therefore, teachers will leave the schools which need their expertise the most in order to seek pay increases. The US government is already having to lure highly qualified teachers to these areas in order to keep them there. These underprivileged schools cannot stand this strain. This is where the students suffer, as mediocre teachers will be able to find jobs more easily in already struggling schools, which will simply lower the quality of education in urban and rural areas, resulting in an even greater educational gap in the nation. Hence, not only will merit pay for teachers not improve the world, but it will devastate any attempts the government is currently making to level the educational playing field.

In essence, using assessment in relationship to teacher pay is a recipe for disaster. While assessments are valid and necessary, tying them to teacher pay is a drastic mistake on the part of any nation, especially if those assessments are universalized, even by state governments.

I look forward to my opponent's response!
feverish

Pro

My opponent makes some excellent arguments and it is obvious that she and I agree on a great deal.

It seems to me however that her argument centres more on the inadequacies of the current testing system and on the possibility of corruption than on the actual resolution of this debate.

My position is that if a reliable means of testing the 'distance travelled' in academic achievement by each pupil was in place and the opportunity for corruption was removed then a teacher's pay should be merit-based.

To find more reliable means of testing that are less susceptible to corruption and not "monumentally expensive" we have to look no further than one of the links provided by my opponent:

http://www.fairtest.org...

"Better methods of evaluating student needs and progress already exist. Good observational checklists used by trained teachers are more helpful than any screening test. Assessment based on student performance on real learning tasks is more useful and accurate for measuring achievement - and provides more information - than multiple-choice achievement tests....
....Trained teams of judges can be used to rate performance in most any academic or non-academic area. In the Olympic Games, for example, gymnasts and divers are rated by panels of judges, and the high and low scores are thrown out. Studies have shown that, with training, the level of agreement among judges (the "inter-rater reliability") is high. As with multiple-choice tests, it is necessary to enact safeguards to ensure that race, class, gender, linguistic or other cultural biases do not affect evaluation."

I believe that a simple peer-evaluation system could be put in place to help prevent corruption. If a teacher is setting, teaching, invigilating and marking their own tests then obviously there is potential for dishonesty. If these tasks were shared amongst colleagues, perhaps even teachers from other schools, there would be much less opportunity for a teacher to dishonestly affect a student's score.

To examine my opponents main points:

1. Is not really an argument against merit based pay but is an examination (no pun) of the flaws of standardised testing.
To say there is "no way to accurately measure student achievement" seems defeatist to me, just because standardised testing is not accurate doesn't rule out other methods (as shown in my opponent's source).
If the current political climate doesn't favour other methods it does not necessarily follow that better ones could not become accepted.

2. Does not argue against merit-based pay, only against bad testing methods and corruption which I have addressed above.

3. Everything in this paragraph I whole-heartedly agree with but again it talks of the unfairness of the current system, not the one I propose.

In the UK we have a system where schools are ranked in a 'league table' based on exam results.
This leads to the best schools getting bigger budgets so they hire the best teacher's at higher salaries and teach the kids from the richest families because school's performance affects property prices. This is a corrupt system that maintains an artificial elite.

The system I propose would involve all teachers at all schools receiving the same basic salary but with individual bonuses based on the improvement (not the grade) of each individual.

4. My opponent says:"The impacts of merit pay are clear. Highly qualified teachers will take positions in schools where they can achieve. Mediocre teachers (the ones left) will take positions in the schools that need highly qualified teachers instead."
I believe that in the system I advocate the best teacher's would instead be motivated to work at the worst performing schools, because there they would have the most opportunity to make substantial improvements, thereby earning bigger bonuses.

And, briefly to look at my opponent's responses to my previous points:

1. Discussed above, the affirmation will not "discriminate against certain teachers based solely on the area in which they choose to teach." They should be rewarded for the improvements they make not the actual level of ability of their pupils.

2. I think 'distance travelled' could easily be tested by an independent party comparing the work of pupils between one semester and the next.

3. I agree completely that sales has nothing to do with teaching (I attempted to make this clear when I raised the example) I was using it merely as an example of how performance related pay clearly affects motivation.

4. Again, measures including those I mentioned above should of course be taken to prevent such corruption and just because current tests are "deeply flawed" and ripe for abuse, it does not follow that if this situation were fixed teacher's pay should not be merit-based.

5. In listing negative impacts my opponent seems to be referring to the impact of systems such as the UK 'league table' model that I mentioned above. I do not advocate schools with the best overall exam results being able to pay a higher salary to teachers. I think that is wrong. I think teachers should be paid for the positive impact they have on young peoples education, not because they are teaching a privileged minority.

A teacher's pay should be merit-based.
Thankyou.
Debate Round No. 2
alto2osu

Con

First of all, I thank my opponent for his thorough response. I'll be addressing arguments in general at first, and then I'll address specific arguments after that.

It seems to me that this debate now needs an overview, as my opponent has now offered up a plan from my source (fairtest.org) in order to fix all of the problems I claim are inherent in the prospect of teacher merit pay. First of all, this means that if I can disprove his alternative being viable, I've gained incredibly strong footing in this debate. Furthermore, if I can prove that the inherent harms of merit pay exist no matter the assessment system used, I believe I will have won this debate. I will do so now.

1. The peer evaluation system is not politically, logistically, or ethically viable, or at least not moreso than a standardized testing model. What my opponent doesn't tell you about my source is the reason for its analysis. If you read the entire page I cite, you will find that I cited it because it does a wonderful job of summarizing the problems with universal assessment systems involving standardized tests, which are a cornerstone of US assessment, and probably aren't going away any time soon. What that organization does not address at all is the implementation of the peer evaluation system in any sort of universal sense. That's because not even the most highly qualified educational experts would recommend this. This has been a serious problem for over 5 decades. Why haven't we implemented this yet? We haven't because it isn't a number of important things:

a. It isn't universally applicable in any way: keep in mind that my opponent clearly conceded that, in order to pay a teacher based on merit, the measurement of the merit must be universally established. My analogy: if one 5th grade class is on times tables and another is on addition and subtraction, the two classroom teachers should not receive equal pay just because students are showing academic achievement. Clearly, one class is conceptually behind. The peer evaluation system is fraught with bias and subjective opinion. Which teachers will assess? How will the localities be assigned assessment teachers? How will we ensure that all assessors have the same concept of how to meet educational goals? Educational research strongly discourages universal curriculum for the very reason that all students are individuals. They should all end up with the same knowledge at the end, but the students may not apply it in the same ways. Which way is the right way? Standardized tests tried to address this, but are failing miserably.

b. It isn't logistically possible: teachers are already incredibly pressed for time, especially with shrinking budgets and school years. Not only that, but the definition of what a good, experienced teacher is varies from state to state, even from district to district. Finding enough teachers who have the time, resources, and proper training and skills to assess millions upon millions of classrooms is unrealistic, and a bureaucratic nightmare.

c. It doesn't solve the problem of flawed assessment systems: how will peer evaluating teachers measure academic success? Via grades? GPA? Test scores? Project results? All are still based on flawed systems of measurement. We run into the same problems as before. If a peer assessor is looking for students who are able to score high marks on a given project at the end of a unit of instruction, the teacher, again, can inflate grades or artificially manipulate performance in numerous ways to pass his or her evaluation. This is inherent to merit-based pay. There are always ways to cheat a system, especially one that is so bogged down and bloated as judging teams for each classroom. The ONLY way to stop this behavior is not to base pay on merit.

Now, onto the rest of the debate. I'll address my opponent's responses to my arguments:

1. I've disproved my opponents alternative as viable above. I also would like to point out his concession on accountability requiring universal standards, which is key to why his alternative cannot be successful.

2. Corruption is inherent in merit-based pay. When performance affects pay, there will always be individuals who attempt to gain more pay by cheating the given system. The perceived success rate is based on the ability to cheat. My evidence proves that there are myriad ways to inflate academic performance, and that those ways have already been heavily exploited. Furthermore, please highlight my example of state governments manipulating student performance in response to the No Child Left Behind Act. That's huge, because states were not doing this until their educational performance affected school budgets. It is directly analogous to the affect merit pay will have on individual schools and students.

3. The problems of socioeconomic, ethnic, and geographic locations will still exist within that utopian plan. These problems are inherent with or without peer evaluation. There is nothing to say that a given peer evaluation team would not be a suburban team coming into a rural school, or an urban team coming into a suburban school, where the learning environment can be completely different. We cannot eliminate human bias from any plan, and we certainly can't expect to solve a couple hundred years of problems with one seemingly simple fix. Even if this system doesn't further entrench the inequities of society within education (which it probably will—statistically, schools are more segregated by specific population than they were prior to Topeka v. Board), the inequities will continue, and my scenario of teachers flocking to places where merit-based pay is far more likely will become a quick reality.

And my opponent's initial advocacy:

1. The actual ability of a student is a requirement of testing. That is the accountability I keep talking about. The public will not accept, and should not accept, two classrooms of the same grade with vastly different abilities. How does that serve education? Improvement is only a piece of achievement, as my opponent admits in his initial debate posting. The reason standardized tests are even used was a failed attempt to ensure that accountability. Any solution must include it.

2. While you may think it is easy to implement, two things stand in the way of us accepting this as a possible reality: my above analysis in this post, and the fact that 50 years of research has not led to a peer evaluation implementation for universal student achievement assessment.

3. Well, if the example of sales can't be used to demonstratively prove anything about teaching, I suppose it isn't necessary to the debate. The police officer analogy is much closer to the teaching profession in terms of importance and accountability, which clearly proves my point dexterously.

4. However, the corruption isn't just tied to standardized tests. It's deeper than that. Even the letter grades that my opponent refers to in his initial advocacy can easily be manipulated, as can an observed day of "performance" by students. The system my opponent proposes cannot fix the inherent flaws of merit pay.

5. For the most part, the impacts I list in my case are inherent to merit pay, not inherent to standardized testing. The evidence I cite uses standardized testing scenarios, but the same scenarios are a very plausible reality in any system because any system that is merit-based will invite and encourage (inadvertently, but still encourage) corruption.

Thus, I negate the resolution.

I look forward to my opponent's response!
feverish

Pro

Thanks again to my opponent for what continues to be an interesting and stimulating debate. I will adopt the same approach as my opponent has done in this round and begin with general arguments before moving on to specifics.

My opponent and I agree that the current system of standardised testing is inherently flawed.
We also both agree that the current situation where schools in more privileged socio-economic areas attract the best teachers because of higher salaries is unfair and not in the interests of improving the education of the population as a whole.

I have proposed a system of equal pay with bonuses awarded to teachers who can demonstrate the most significant improvements in individuals learning, based around independent peer evaluation.
I believe this would alleviate most of the problems in the education system that my opponent describes.

She maintains that peer evaluation is non-viable and that the problems she outlines are tied directly to the idea of merit-based pay. It is these contentions that I will attempt to disprove in this round.

"1. The peer evaluation system is not politically, logistically, or ethically viable, or at least not moreso than a standardized testing model."

I believe that the fairtest.org article clearly argues that it is ethically and logistically preferable to standardised testing. As for party politics, as I suggested in the previous round these should not be allowed to get in the way of the fact that we 'should' be implementing the best policies possible.

"a. It isn't universally applicable in any way: keep in mind that my opponent clearly conceded that, in order to pay a teacher based on merit, the measurement of the merit must be universally established."

Sincere apologies to my opponent if I have misled her in any way, but I'm not sure what I said that suggested I conceded this fact. I don't remember arguing for a universal testing system and don't advocate one, I believe the pupils should be assessed on their individual achievements not on their conformance to a standardised grade or even curriculum. I did suggest a universal basic rate of pay for teachers (before merit-based bonuses) so maybe this is where the confusion arises.

"Which teachers will assess? How will the localities be assigned assessment teachers? How will we ensure that all assessors have the same concept of how to meet educational goals?....
....b. It isn't logistically possible: teachers are already incredibly pressed for time, especially with shrinking budgets and school years.....

....c. It doesn't solve the problem of flawed assessment systems: how will peer evaluating teachers measure academic success? Via grades? GPA? Test scores? Project results?"

I don't claim to have all the answers to making peer-evaluation work, but I think the panel of independent judges assessing student performance as described in the fairtest.org article sounds like a decent model. As I said I don't necessarily support a standardised curriculum, but trained judges should be able to accurately assess whether a pupil's knowledge and academic abilities have improved without resorting to such a system and without as much opportunity for the teacher who will be rewarded being able to unfairly manipulate the results.

Remember that we want teachers to be motivated to do their best to improve their students results. We just need to make sure they do this fairly. A system that rewards the bad teachers and the good the same does not motivate either to try harder.

"1. I've disproved my opponents alternative as viable above. I also would like to point out his concession on accountability requiring universal standards, which is key to why his alternative cannot be successful.

2. Corruption is inherent in merit-based pay."

I don't think proving that there would be difficulties in implementing something is the same as proving it non-viable, certainly not the same as proving it should not be a desired course of action.
Again ,apologies but don't recall making this concession and can't find it when scanning through previous rounds. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
I do not believe my opponent has proved that corruption is inherent to merit-based pay.

"states were not doing this until their educational performance affected school budgets. It is directly analogous to the affect merit pay will have on individual schools and students."

I see these as two distinct situations, not directly analogous at all. In my model which is just one of countless hypothetical ones you could apply, bonuses would apply to individual teachers not school or state budgets, which would be a very different case.

"3. The problems of socioeconomic, ethnic, and geographic locations will still exist within that utopian plan. These problems are inherent with or without peer evaluation. There is nothing to say that a given peer evaluation team would not be a suburban team coming into a rural school, or an urban team coming into a suburban school, where the learning environment can be completely different."

I think the fairtest.org article again makes it clear that for such a system to work "it is necessary to enact safeguards to ensure that race, class, gender, linguistic or other cultural biases do not affect evaluation." So there is something in my argument to say that such a situation as described by my opponent should not occur.

"my scenario of teachers flocking to places where merit-based pay is far more likely will become a quick reality."

Yes but in the "utopian" system these places would be exactly those where performance is lowest and are in most need of good teachers. This would ultimately be of great benefit to society as a whole, a better educated populace being more economically sound and (in theory at least) having more regard for law, order and decency.

"The public will not accept, and should not accept, two classrooms of the same grade with vastly different abilities."

There will always be children in every classroom with vastly different abilities. People are all better at different things. The idea of every child nationwide of a certain grade being at exactly the same level of achievement can not be a reality, so why every class?

"Improvement is only a piece of achievement, as my opponent admits in his initial debate posting."

Maybe this then was perceived as my concession of universal standards: "this should apply not merely to getting the highest marks or the most number of A-grades in a class but should rather be a measurement of the 'distance-travelled' by pupils."
I can see how my use of 'merely' could have been misconstrued to suggest the notion of incorporating but I think 'rather' makes my real position clearer.

"2. While you may think it is easy to implement, two things stand in the way of us accepting this as a possible reality"

I never meant to imply it would be easy just not "monumentally expensive." The fact that something is difficult does not make it impossible and does not mean if it is a good idea we should not attempt to implement it.

Due to space limitations I apologise that I can not answer my opponents last three rebuttals in this round, but if my opponent invites me to, I would be happy to display my responses in the comments section.

Anyway I believe I have argued that corruption is a separate issue and not necessarily inherent to merit-based pay and that peer-evaluation while admittedly having it's difficulties could effectively diminish the spectre of corruption.

Once again a teacher's pay should be merit-based.

Thanks.
Debate Round No. 3
alto2osu

Con

I thank my opponent for his prompt and thorough response. I hate character limits, as well.

I'll address arguments in the order in which they were given in my opponent's round 3 post.

1. On fairtest.org and the viability of peer evaluation: I want to reiterate the purpose of fairtest.org, and encourage the readers of this debate to read over it to evaluate claims on both sides. While the site does recommend peer evaluation as a possible alternative to authentic educational assessment, it says absolutely nothing about its application as a universal medium for basing merit pay on. That isn't the purpose of their advocacy, and the peer evaluation model has not been applied to this system, despite it not being a new concept within the educational community. Hundreds of educational researchers have scoured the planet looking for viable alternatives to assessing achievement. This is not a commonly recommended solution for the reasons I've outlined.

2. On universality of testing: My opponent conceded it by not arguing it in his round 2 post. It was not addressed, so it became my job to tell you why this becomes important to the debate. And it is. As I prove in my round 2 post very early on, the universality of the test is necessary to gauge accountability amongst different localities of a nation. I remind you of the 5th grade classroom analogy that I have now used twice in the debate. I assumed that, since the universality of the test went uncontested in the 2nd round, he agreed that it is necessary to include such accountability within a system of merit based pay. I didn't hide the argument. It was a clear part of my initial advocacy.

3. On implementation of peer evaluation (how it won't be problematic in the 3 ways I suggested): This is all very vague. My opponent claims that these judges can sidestep the issues I've outlined, deeply rooted societal issues and educational issues, but doesn't tell us how his system is built to do this. He can't articulate how these trained judges will escape bias, be assigned fairly, assess through systems that aren't flawed but a staple of US education (i.e. letter grades, percentages, etc.), or how even to standardize the peer evaluation methods. This is necessary, as well, but is it possible? I'd also like to highlight the economic aspect of my arguments that go unaddressed. Think about millions of classrooms, and judges assessing each one "x" number of times per year. We are already short on education budgets. People have to be paid to do this. A lot of people have to be paid to do this. It isn't just a couple people. It's got to be nationwide.

4. On teacher motivation: I would refer you to the example that I gave in round 3 regarding administrative evaluation and renewal vs. non-renewal. That is a system which works highly efficiently, and does not involve merit based pay. The threat of poor performance is the loss of a job. I'd also like to point out that reform may need to start with the colleges training our teachers. We may simply have a teaching market over-saturated with bad teachers, at which point a merit-based pay system is a bandaid fix for a gaping, festering wound on education.

5. On the No Child Left Behind Act being unrelated to the debate: I don't see how the No Child Left Behind after-effects are not directly analogous to the corruption issue. In fact, you'd think a state government would be easier to check than an individual, who scrutinized far less and by far fewer people. In order to make peer evaluation even moderately worthwhile, you could only assess a teacher so many times in a year. A state government is far more looked after in terms of checks and balances. Hence, if a school district or state education dept. is able to corrupt student achievement assessments in order to reap the benefits of it, an individual is much more likely to be able to exploit such a system. Plainly, merit-based rewards (like pay) empirically cause corruptive behavior.

6. On the harms of peer evaluation not existing: The harms come from the widespread use of something that shouldn't be used in a widespread manner. Transforming an idea into something that large with no tentative research on the outcome is always dangerous. These harms can and most likely will occur for the reasons I outlined. Standardized tests of the 21st century aren't supposed to produce these results, either, but they are a human creation, just like a peer evaluation system. And yet, human nature rears its ugly head. While I can't guarantee that rampant discrimination will occur, I can assess, using historical precedence and my knowledge of human nature, that it probably will.

7. On classrooms not being equal in ability: So, here's where my opponent finally addresses something with regards to universality. I think we are confused on what each of us mean by "differing abilities." Obviously, multiple intelligence theory tells us that some kids are better with hands-on learning and projects, while others find their strengths in listening, or in musical activities, etc. That isn't what I'm talking about, and my 5th grade classroom analogy clarifies. No matter how we teach the kids in those classrooms to perform certain skills, there must be a universal baseline of knowledge. Remember the math example: if one classroom of equal grade is learning times tables, and the other is still learning addition and subtraction, something is wrong with the latter classroom. Multiple intelligences and individualized learning styles doesn't stop a teacher from effectively meeting benchmarks. And, obviously, learning one's times tables, or acquiring a certain reading level, is a basic skill, and should not be considered to be difficult to attain within a well-run classroom.

8. On the issues of what composes academic success (improvement vs. highest grade): Not at all. That was a response to your round 2 arguments. Universality, as I hope I've further clarified, has little to do with which parts of education you assess, but rather making sure that the assessment is attempting to show nationwide improvement based on basic standards. I hate to sound like a broken record, but it's about accountability, to parents and politicians alike. Not only that, but since the good you've been trying to achieve since your initial debate post was that education is good for a nation, it would only make sense that a nation would want all of its students to have the same skills that it deems necessary for a high quality of life within its borders. Hence, making sure that every classroom in the nation is proficiently teaching these standards is highly important to the debate.
~The claim, based on the above analysis, is this. Based on the arguments made previously, the peer evaluation system cannot be universally implemented or universally calibrated. Fairtest.org doesn't touch this, because they don't claim to have the ability to assert that this can be done. Neither does analysis of the current educational research community. I hope this clarifies for future posts.

9. On "difficult does not mean we shouldn't implement": Right now, monumentally expensive makes it a non-reality. Education budgets are shrinking, as I noted earlier in the post. Implementing a working administrative system like the one I outlined in my round 2 posts, involving renewal and non-renewal, costs no extra funds (as evaluations can be done with the admin, who are already highly trained to assess teacher performance), is ensured to be done locally, and also seeks to uphold state educational standards. This system simply needs to be renovated across the nation.

On missed arguments: due to time constraints, I'm not gonna worry about the offense gained by dropped arguments here. I think I've defended my position with great dexterity, and don't feel the need to gain ground over word count.

I thank my opponent again for the wonderful debate, and wish the readers good luck!
feverish

Pro

Hello again in the final round of an extremely enjoyable debate.

My charming and well-mannered opponent has made intelligent arguments from a commendable moral standpoint.

However I believe that I have proved that a teacher's pay should be merit-based as I have described. It is now up to you, the voters to decide.

The points addressed in my opponent's last argument:

1.
I agree that that the fairtest.org article does not explicitly propose their alternatives to the current system of testing being applied as the basis of a merit-based system. Neither does it suggest that it shouldn't or couldn't be.

The recommendations and the article as a whole are merely seeking an alternative to the universally applied system of standard testing and don't actually reflect directly on the issue of merit-based pay at all.

Similarly my opponent's other source does not tackle merit-based pay only the corruption that the current system encourages.

Again, like the issue of whether merit-based pay is politically viable, the question of whether it is "commonly recommended" does not address whether it should or should not be applied.

2.
I don't agree that by not immediately arguing a point put forward by my opponent I concede to that point.
When others don't respond directly to my arguments, I tend to reply along the lines of: 'As my opponent does not dispute this issue, I assume they agree with me.' This gives the other debater a chance to respond to a point they may have (intentionally or otherwise) over-looked.
I did not intend to concede on including universal testing in my frame-work although I would not necessarily rule it out altogether. I certainly do concede that my opponent is a much more experienced debater than myself, so if I have erred from any conventional format or code of conduct, I apologise sincerely.

I apologise also for not directly examining the fifth grade class analogy and will attempt to do so now.

Assuming fifth grade is equivalent to UK year 5 and would be 9-10 year olds I certainly agree that they should be learning at least basic times tables as well as addition. (Off topic, I am proud to say my five year old who is in year 1 has already got her 2,3,5 and 10 times tables pretty much locked down!)

However if for some reason a teacher ends up with a severely educationally deprived group of year 5 pupils who are simply not ready for times tables but manages to vastly improve their abilities in addition and subtraction, then yes, that teacher should be rewarded accordingly, unlike in a universal standards system of merit-based pay where they would miss out despite their achievements.

I did not mean to insinuate in any way that my opponent had 'hid' any argument or been vague. I apologise to her and to readers if I gave this impression.

3.
I don't feel an overwhelming burden to provide the intricate details of a practical system of peer-evaluation in order to prove the resolution. The resolution stands if we can accept that under any hypothetical system that can cut down significantly on the risks of corruption (which is well within the realms of possibility as the examples prove), then a teacher's pay should indeed be merit-based.

As for the economic argument I have stated that the cost would not be "monumental" but never suggested it would be cheap.
I made it clear that more money would have to be put into education when I said that teacher's pay should definitely not be reduced and merit bonuses should be applied on top.
I am by no means an expert on US government spending but would hazard a guess that a minimal fraction of the US Defence budget would easily finance the system I outline.

4.
The renewal vs non-renewal idea seems somewhat flawed to me. It could open up opportunities for concealed discrimination (on racial, faith based or gender bias as well as unfounded rumours etc.) it would essentially be a popularity contest within the school or the education authority as well as being intrinsically linked to standardised testing which I argue is not a good thing.

I think the way to solve a market saturated with bad teachers, if that is the current situation in the US, is to attract more highly skilled and educated people into the profession with higher salaries, as would exist in the system I advocate.
I know that the problem in the UK is too few teachers, rather than too many.

I apologise if my subsequent arguments become briefer as I see the Character Count diminish.

5.
I don't mean to appear stubborn but I really don't see how my opponent justifies a direct comparison between organisations and individuals which are inherently different cases. It is easier to monitor and judge fairly the dishonest actions of an individual than a conspired action co-ordinated by a number of people within an organisation.

6.
Again I don't feel I need to prove the specific practicalities of peer evaluation in order to prove the resolution. The debate is about whether merit-based pay should be applied.

7.
I agree that we should be aiming towards a universal base line knowledge but I'm not sure how this can ever be guaranteed or even clearly defined.
Is the universal base line that every child should understand the simplest concepts understood by the most advanced students or that they should understand the most complicated ideas comprehended by those furthest behind?

Yes if a 5th grade class has never learned any times tables and a teacher does not improve upon this then he should not be rewarded but if a new teacher takes on such a backwards class and makes substantial progress with these pupils he should definitely be rewarded for improving upon their limited abilities.

And yes, I agree that this particular example should not be difficult to attain but a standard set so low would not really be worth setting.

8.
Sorry again to readers and opponent if I missed anything but I don't recall saying that "improvement is only a piece of achievement" in either my first post or in round 2. I think I was saying that it was improvement that should be measured rather than grades.

my opponent says: "since the good you've been trying to achieve since your initial debate post was that education is good for a nation, it would only make sense that a nation would want all of its students to have the same skills that it deems necessary for a high quality of life within its borders."

I think it's more important that they have the highest level of skills they can personally achieve than that they all have the same skills.
I think I've shown that the best way to improve a base standard would be to make the jobs teaching the most behind kids the most rewarding financially so that the best teachers are more attracted to these jobs, as would be the case in my system.
Incidentally this is clearly a point in favour of political viability as this is the result that the government incentives for disadvantaged schools my opponent mentioned hope to achieve.

I don't think the peer evaluation system necessarily needs to be universally calibrated as long as it is a fair and impartial assessment of improvement.

"Fairtest.org doesn't touch this"
It doesn't dispute it either.

9.
"Monumentally expensive" is quite a subjective term:

Monumental:
1. Of, resembling, or serving as a monument.
2. Impressively large, sturdy, and enduring.
3. Of outstanding significance
4. Astounding

http://www.thefreedictionary.com...

Monumental in comparison to what?

Renewal vs. non-renewal does have the advantage of being cheap but I think the negatives I outlined above outweigh this. I don't believe finance should be the foremost consideration in deciding whether merit-based pay should be applied or not.

On missed argume

...

Thanks again to my opponent for a great debate. Hope readers enjoyed it too.

Pro.
Debate Round No. 4
43 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 6 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
Interesting to note that Pro's case relied on corruption being taken out of the equation whereas Con's case made it an important part of her initial argument.

My opinion: it should be based on student evals. In any company, customer surveys are the basic means through which a company can determine which of it's products are working. Classes are products. In-demand teachers who have higher evals should be paid more, at least in private schools if not in public schools as well.

In Universities, this should apply to the professors as well. In fact I believe my reasoning better suited for professors in private Universities but it can also extend to public Universities and schools as well. The educational system has lost sight of the fact that "customer is king" and continues to believe that the needs of the teachers and professors come before that of the student.

If either debater wants to discuss with me, I suggest PMing or writing on my profile as it is hardly likely I will come back to a 2 year old debate to check. However, interesting choice of topic.
Posted by feverish 8 years ago
feverish
That's reasons for decisions.
Posted by benjaminfranklin 8 years ago
benjaminfranklin
What are RFD's?
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
I've always thought it's a bit lame to vote for oneself :) I am not necessarily sad that I won, but I've been told that RFDs tend to be left by debaters who paid close attention to the debate itself, rather than just the resolution. :) Who knows...
Posted by feverish 8 years ago
feverish
Thanks Dani, it was a cool debate, didn't realise it was such a short voting period.

Don't mind losing but a little bit gutted by the difference in scores, would have been good to get some more RFDs from voters. Oh well. I can't vote so at least two people must have agreed with me though which is good to know.

Well done Dani and deffo debate again sometime.

Peace.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
I very much want to thank Feverish for the awesome debate, and I hope we have more in the future!
Posted by Biggbrother 8 years ago
Biggbrother
ha!
New york has the highest base pay teachers in the united states. By MICHAEL WINERIP

roy your still boring

standerdized testing does work in college when they are the only grades made available.
why ? most in college want to be there and when a standardized test evaluates your knowledge of a particular course you will flourish and stay on task.

but for highschoolers please
half will fail because of the standardized testing, fail highschool as in reasons why kids dont try anymore.

pay the teachers , make them and the students accountable, teach the kids. love yall!

ABRAHAM LINCOLN:
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

AFRICAN PROVERB:
It takes a village to raise a child.

ALBERT EINSTEIN:
It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.

ALBERT EINSTEIN:
It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.

ALVIN TOFFLER:
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

ANATOLE FRANCE:
Nine tenths of education is encouragement.
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
Well, merit-pay solves nothing, as well, or at least that's what I've been striving to prove. I don't know that benjamin is commenting on the actual debate, rather than just his own personal ideology prior to reading the debate. Both feverish and I advocate for change. We simply advocate it in different avenues.

Note that pay is equal only in that it is not merit-based. Seniority, which in my plan, is accrued only by being an evaluated teacher with a grasp of his/her profession, achieves higher pay. If this system were legitimized, rather than passed over or ignored by many districts, our problems would be fair less noticeable.
Posted by benjaminfranklin 8 years ago
benjaminfranklin
What does equal pay solve? Teachers who are lazy will still be lazy. They'll fail more kids, sure. But if they don't want to work hard, or are simply can't, because they lack the talent for the job (or hate kids or their life) then they'll continue to fail as teachers regardless of equal pay or not.

What we lose is teachers who work hard. Instead, they will see their lazy co-workers, and feel they are being cheated.

The system of teacher evaluation needs to be fixed. Equal pay will solve NOTHING. Bad teachers will still perform badly.

Whatever investment needs to be made to ensure that teachers performance is accounted for must be made; education is an investment that pays off in human capital!
Posted by alto2osu 8 years ago
alto2osu
I still think my position is being oversimplified. The evaluations I go through, for instance, must directly evidence that I am meeting or exceeding not only state educational standards for content, but also specific teaching skills standards outlined via my district (the eval form is heft...4-5 pages, I think?). It isn't that I abhor standards when applied correctly. Content standards I support fully, and those are developed via the state education system. What I don't think is realistic or fair (in terms of the reading I've done) is conforming the proof that those standards have been met into a single test that statistically prefers middle to upper class white folk. I suppose I have to refer you back to my issues with the math and English tests. Those problems can sink a teacher's salary in the affirmative world, though he/she may be achieving learning gains. They just won't be displayed in that one test. That's my issue. You characterize my opinions in an all or nothing way that I'm not down with. Not only that, but apparently, I must be a bad teacher because, as you say, I support a system in which I'm not assessed on what students actually learn :)

While I cannot speak with certainty about the ethnic make-up or overall economic situation of the school systems in Taiwan or Japan, my guess is that schools are far more equally funded and privileged, so this problem is not the same. But, to be fair, I'd have to do reading on those school systems before I could assert that. I can guarantee you that students in New York, more than you might think, are severely underserved by standardized tests.
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