The Instigator
JBlake
Pro (for)
Winning
15 Points
The Contender
aaronr8684
Con (against)
Losing
14 Points

Merit based pay for the Education System

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/2/2008 Category: Education
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,357 times Debate No: 5233
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (5)

 

JBlake

Pro

Claim:
Basing K - 12 teacher's salary on merit would be a huge advantage to the Education System.
aaronr8684

Con

Good luck ;-)

As much as I agree with the intended results of this claim (pushing teachers to teach better to earn more), I don't think that it is practical. First, each state would probably be in charge of it's own system and that would create inconsistencies in the grading and rewarding of the teachers. Second, how would the schools "prove" that students had indeed improved. Third, the "scores" would more than likely follow the trends of past school evaluations.

The huge task of trying to manage this on a national level would prove more than any department of our national government would want to handle. This would lead to "general" guidelines being set, with which every state would be individually responsible for following and managing. This leads to the problem of each state (or groups of states) coming up with different scales. Some on a rubric style (0-4), others on a percent or grade scale, and so on. This would cause confusion when talking about state comparison. This could be further complicated if the states passed the ball to the local school districts.

Another problem would be how the teachers would be rewarded. How would you prove that a student truly improved? Testing every year? That might prove mildly difficult for the big/objective subjects (Math, Science, History), but what about the smaller or more subjective subjects (Art, English, Gym)?

What about dealing with past evaluation methods such as the Ohio Proficiency Exam (I'm from Ohio) or the more widely known ACT/SAT. Not only were the tests made easier over the years to increase the scores, but it also caused a lot of teachers to switch their method of teaching. Instead of encouraging students to learn, they started encouraging students to memorize exactly what was on the tests. Critical thinking was replaced with memorize and forget.

Because of these downfalls, I believe that adding ANOTHER test to evaluate how teachers and students are doing, will just create more problems then it will fix. Teachers will care less about their students and more about getting raises. I challenge my opponent to give me resolutions to these problems and also to prove why this would be a better system.

Thank you,
-Aaron
Debate Round No. 1
JBlake

Pro

Claim:
1. It is impractical on the federal level.
2. State and Local levels would complicate the grading and rewarding of teachers.
3. It is difficult to prove there is improvement.
4. 'Scores' on standardized tests to measue improvement would result into the same problems of the past.
5. Teachers will care less about their students and more about getting raises.

Rebuttal:
1. My opponent is correct, it is both impractical and unconstitutional at the federal level. Education has been delegated a state function. In turn, states often pass this along to the local level.

2. Certainly states could be convinced of the benefit of a universal grading system. Even if they could not, would it not be simple enough to devise a conversion system between the two (or more)?
More importantly, it is to a particular state and/or region that each teacher must answer. That makes this an unimportant issue.
Finally, private schools already measure teacher performance in a number of ways: peer review, parent feedback, standardized student testing, subsequent education levels (for students), or any variation thereof.

3. The same method that suggests the U.S. is beginning to lag behind other nations would be the same method to 'prove' student improvement. If we can measure a drop, certainly we can measure improvement.
Quick facts on student test scores in relation to other nations: http://nces.ed.gov...

4. You may be correct in this respect, however there are other was to measure a teacher's performance, as mentioned above.

5. Almost every other profession has a merit based pay. If you are a poor lawyer you will not retain clients and/or lose your job. Teachering as a profession is in the minority in a tenure track system, that is to say, pay based on years on the job and degree, not performance. Is it my opponent's contention that all professions that are merit based suffer the same as he claims teachers would?
Is it necessarily a bad thing for a teacher to care about a raise? On a merit based system, in order to receive a raise a teacher must earn it based on his/her performance. Therefore the fate of the student and that of the raise go hand in hand.

Resolved:
That more pay with rewards based on merit will attract a higher quality of educator.

Resolved:
That more pay for teachers will justify raising the education requirements for educators, resulting in a higher quality of educator.
aaronr8684

Con

You're claims:
1. it is both impractical and unconstitutional at the federal level.
2. Certainly states could be convinced of the benefit of a universal grading system. Even if they could not, would it not be simple enough to devise a conversion system between the two (or more)? More importantly, it is to a particular state and/or region that each teacher must answer.
3. private schools already measure teacher performance in a number of ways
4. The same method that suggests the U.S. is beginning to lag behind other nations would be the same method to 'prove' student improvement.
5. however there are other was to measure a teacher's performance, as mentioned above.
6. Almost every other profession has a merit based pay.

For the sake of this debate. I'll pass on claims 1 and 5 as agreed and focus on the other four.

Rebuttal:
2. I don't think that it would be very easy to devise a conversion system. You would have to account for testing method, testing material, cultural context, etc. I disagree that it makes it an unimportant issue, but rather even more important. You wouldn't create a testing method w/o having some way to see if you "stack up" against the neighboring school districts. In addition, the government could easily use the new tests to grade the schools. Then once grading is entered into the mix, schools won't care as much about the students in fear that they will lose the funding that every school desperately needs.

3. Private schools are a whole other matter. First they are privately funded. The teachers' salaries are based on the parents' feedback, not the government. The number one thing to a parent is obviously going to be their child. Because they are private and have a lot more resources (and much less regulations) to work with, they have a lot more room to decide how things are taught. They also attract "better" teachers because they are able to offer higher starting salaries. I'll address this more later.

4. This testing method has a serious flaw. They are taking a sample of students to grade the nation as a whole. If you used this method to grade individual teachers, things get complicated. In order to get accurate results, you would need to test the entire class. Because most schools have different teachers for different subjects (starting around 5th or 6th grade), you would have to test in multiple areas every year. This again as I stated above, would cause teachers to teach the test instead of teaching the material. Not only is a raise on the line, but a job and possibly the school's funding.

6. I disagree that almost every other profession has a merit based pay. Before, I go on, I think it's save to assume that teachers and every other job has some merit base to it. Do a job or get fired. Most jobs stop there and I will be referring to "merit" as what goes beyond that basic idea. They don't require that you do it well or that you even do it completely. Want proof? A lot of gov't funded jobs, road construction, office work (not gov't), and many others. You can see that the jobs aren't always done as well as they could have, or even as well as the person was able, but they still get raises, and many don't deserve them.

No it's not a bad thing for a teacher to care about a raise. It's what this nation was founded on. Capitalism and competition. It's bad when it pulls all of the "good" teachers out of the poor schools because their improvement can't be equally funded. Or when teachers start to flock to the schools that have the trend of improving leaving the unimproving schools with the second rate teachers and perpetuating the cycle. I don't think that creating a merit based education system will help anything.

Additional claims:
1. College is a great point in providing that more money doesn't necessarily make a better teacher. They are in every school from Harvard to Community Colleges.

Resolution negated:
1. The rewards will not be even across districts and will further perpetuate the cycle with bigger gaps between districts.

Resolution negated:
2. The rewards will not create a higher quality educator, it will merely show which teachers are better at preparing for another standardized test.

Resolution:
Focus more on how the teachers are teaching the material and help the teachers understand how to reach the students on a more in depth level and less on the pay they receive.
Debate Round No. 2
JBlake

Pro

I will note that my opponent conceded the point that there are other methods to test a teather's performance.

Claims:
1. a. It would be difficult to devise a conversion system
b. Schools need a way to see how they measure up to neighboring districts
c. This measuring system would be used by governments to grade schools resulting in a loss of funding for unimproving schools.
2. Private schools utilize parent feedback as a measurement; private schools have more resources and less regulation; offer higher starting salaries.
3. Standardized testing has a serious flaw, as we both have noted.
4. Almost every profession is not merit based, though merit plays a role.
5. Teachers would flock to schools with a trend of improvement.
6. College is a great point in providing that more money doesn't necessarily make a better teacher. They are in every school from Harvard to Community Colleges.
7. Rewards do not cross districts and will cause even bigger gaps between districts.
8. Rewards do not create better teachers, just shows who is better at preparing for standardized tests.
9. Emphasis should be on how teachers teach, not rewards.

Rebuttal:
1. If the grading scale is devised by each state, then a conversion system would be much less complicated. It is already agreed that a measure would be required in such a system, but it does not follow that such a system would result in a loss in funding for unimproving schools. We are not talking about the school funding here, just the teachers' pay. Schools are already graded and funded based on that grade. I am not saying that is right or wrong, simply that it is a fact. This is another issue that could deserve change, but is unrelated to teacher pay.

2. a. We are agreed that private schools utilize different feedback measures.
b. While they do often have more resources available, school funding is not the issue. The issue is teachers' pay.
c. I do not see why a higher starting salary is incompatible with merit based pay.

3. My opponent has already conceded this point by agreeing that there are other methods to measure a teacher's performance.

4. I disagree about most jobs. Most professions will get no raise, or a lower raise, based on performance. It is not even necessarily important to note the difference between 'some' and 'almost all'. The fact that a merit based system exists for any profession is proof that said system is not inherently flawed, as my opponent contends.

5. Again, my opponent has already conceded that standardized testing is not the only possible measure of a teacher. Therefore, with other methods, flocking to schools with better standardized test scores would not be benefitial to teachers and thus would not happen to the extent that my opponent claims. Certainly some teachers will seek out 'better' schools, just like some doctors seek out 'better' hospitals, and some lawyers seek out 'better' law firms.

6. College educators also do a great deal of research as well as teach. Some professors are valued more for research than teaching. Therefore it is unfair to compare the two, since teachers do not do research and thus can't be rewarded for it while simultaneously being a 'bad' teacher.

7. Rewards would exist in every district. Some would have better educators than others. This is equally true in the current system. Therefore an overall increase in the gap between districts would not happen. (Resolution not negated)

8. See Rebuttals #3 and #5. (Resolution not negated)

9. Such a curriculum based Education system already exists and shows displays many of the same problems that my opponent claims would result from shifting to a merit based pay scale. Controlling what they teach and how they teach even more would not create better educators. (Resolution negated)

Resolved:
That attracting better teachers through higher starting pay, merit based pay, and a higher standard of education required of teachers would result in a better education system.

I would like to conclude by thanking my opponent for a most entertaining and interesting debate. May the best arguement win.
aaronr8684

Con

I will refute the 9 rebuttals (if necessary) and then make my conclusion.

1. The grading scale used will at first be used to grade the teachers, but then could be used to grade the school and funding could be adjusted according to the ratings.

2. School funding is used to pay the teachers so it's natural to assume that the more funding a school has, the more it can pay its teachers. My point in bringing up private school's salaries was to prove that the "better" teachers will follow the money. They also are regulated to standardized exams and can actually push the students to learn.

3. Agreed, however, every testing method myself or my opponent has brought up has been shown to be flawed and therefore, not any help as to how to rate the teachers, as required by the first proposition. This would be the first crucial step and my opponent has given no argument that it will work better than it has in the past.

4. Again the performance is usually based on a flawed testing method. What would be different with teachers. It's not the quality of work they do, it's the test scores they provide.

5. Just because you agree that one method doesn't work, doesn't mean that another will. Again, I have yet to hear how the students will be tested to avoid the problem that standardized testing also has.

6. Not all colleges are research colleges. I'm sure there are still bad teachers in the non-research colleges.

7. This is only true if all states enact the merit based system. If they don't, and it's very likely they won't (just look at trends of other subjects and laws), teachers will go to states with the best package. This will leave shortages, just like we have now.

8. Again, no solution to a testing method was provided.

9. This was meant as a better method for our current system by allowing teachers and future teachers to understand the better teaching methods.

Conclusion:
My opponent never answered these key points.
1. How would the teachers be tested without having the teachers focus on the tests?
2. How would subjective subjects be graded against the more objective ones?
3. Why would implementing a system of merit based pay that has the same if not more flaws as the current system be of any benefit?

The problem is that this system wouldn't fix any of the issues that are being dealt with today in our current system. So what would cause people to want to throw more money away in getting a "new" system started when it wouldn't fix any of the problems. There is no reason. Instead, improvements in the current system should be looked into. This would be at a far less cost then trashing the current system and creating a new one.

Thank you.
-Aaron

PS This was a pretty fun and entertaining debate. Thank you to my opponent who maintained a professional manner throughout.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by CogitoErgoCogitoSum 8 years ago
CogitoErgoCogitoSum
In some ways I do agree with the intention of this argument, but I must side with Con, also.

An additional problem Con didnt mention is that who would grade the students? Who would evaluate a students progress throughout the school year? The same teach who has a vested financial interest in those numbers? Or those who are competitors and have a vested financial interest in a given instructors poor statistics?

Education, like medical care, should be communized... not capitalized.
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Vote Placed by jimjamesalex 7 years ago
jimjamesalex
JBlakeaaronr8684Tied
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Vote Placed by JBlake 8 years ago
JBlake
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