Donna Weiss: A teacher’s worth

December 7, 2013 

I taught middle school and high school in a small city in New Jersey for 26 years. As the town I worked in changed demographics, adding many students with inadequate skills, we saw a decline in students’ scores and grades.

If my abilities had been measured by achievement, then I would have been judged a less and less qualified teacher as the years went by. That just wasn’t so. Like my colleagues, as I taught, I learned and became one darned good teacher! I was known to engage the most recalcitrant students, so I was placed with the reluctant pupils. Had I been paid based on scores, I would have fared badly compared with those who taught honors courses; my students’ improvements couldn’t measure up to scores of overachievers. That they did not get suspended from my classes, whereas they were continually in trouble elsewhere, did not show up on scores.

If there is some merit pay model that rewards the hardest-working, most-deserving teachers, I am all for it. But I haven’t seen one devised yet that assesses teachers fairly.

Donna Weiss


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