It supports teacher action for student achievement. Thus, the benefits of the teacher performance pay platform outweigh discomfort that accompanies it.
Some educators challenge the performance pay platform citing student circumstances and abilities as a barrier.
Student Potential vs. Current Circumstances
While it is true that some students have extenuating and tragic circumstances, those circumstances do not determine whether or not students can master required standards or goals. What students are taught should be based on expected outcomes, not what parents, administrators, or even teachers think students are capable of doing.
Individuals who experienced enough of life know that unfortunate circumstances happen and that perseverance is key to pursuing goals, overcoming challenges, and attaining success.
It is one thing to acknowledge the hard times students are having, but it would be detrimental to base the level of education offered to students on their current circumstances. We as educators should be looking to students’ futures and what they can potentially give to society. We must see the best of their potential even if students cannot visualize it. Educators who teach based on a positive vision of students’ future will provide quality instruction geared towards students’ potential. That instruction will include rigor and give students ample opportunities to rise and demonstrate mastery of standards. Practice makes permanence. Despite of their abilities or circumstances, students who are given enough exposure and practiced permanence will be more prepared to demonstrate mastery of standards. When mastery of standards is demonstrated, student achievement will result.
Teachers’ challenge of the performance pay platform may less about student abilities and more about how the platform challenges some practices and encourage teachers to abandon comfort zones.
Teachers as Students
Some educators are exceptional students (in the higher education classroom) and eagerly pursue degrees for an increase in pay. However, an advanced degree gives little indication of an educator’s effectiveness. Performance pay requests those same educators to become students and learn about who they are teaching in their classrooms. Teacher’s classrooms become case studies and a fertile ground for research. It requires teachers to invest time in getting to know exactly where students are. Teachers will become more cognizant of data to better assess and modify instruction based on assessment of learning. This meaningful research would be a true assessment of where students are. After all teachers must know where students are in order to reach them and take them to where they need to go—that is, those desired outcomes.
Our goal as educators is to do what is best for students even if it makes educators uncomfortable in the process. As lifelong learners, we should rise to meet the challenge of a platform that allows us to become researchers on the quest to learn, understand, and respond to student academic needs for their necessary achievement.