It’s most often tenured teachers who have the most surprised reaction when we talk about this. It often starts when our conversations steers close to the issue, and I drop this bomb.

“I’d happily give up Tenure for Merit Pay.”

Eyes widen. Jaws slacken. Palms sweat and buns fidget. “Why’s that?” they ask.

Here’s why:

There’s a teacher at my school who I watched yell at his kids for not lining up correctly before the bell.
For ten minutes.
He also has them copy three pages of notes per section by hand, and that’s the only way he teaches.
He gets paid more than me.



This teacher and I have never spoken, and I don’t pretend to judge him based solely on hearsay, but — and I say this without a shred of shame — you’d be hard pressed to find two examples in my class of teaching that bad.

John and I discussed this briefly in the car on the way back from La Cucina this weekend. He pushed back, saying (and I agree) that “teacher ranking needs to be rock-solid”.

Definitely. Let’s go there. There are eight measures (so far) of teacher effectiveness, they are, in no order:

1.) Student test scores – Yeah, okay. They are a measure. One criterion. No denying that.

2.) Parent Survey – this would definitely encourage me to make more parent contact.

3.) Units after Bachelor’s degree – Objective and easily verified.

4.) Student Survey – arguably the best judge of teacher effectiveness, students should have significant voice in what makes a good teacher. I created my own list and I have them grade me two or three times a year. (Then blogged about it here.)

5.) Peer Observations – You know who else does a good job of judging teacher effectiveness? Other teachers.

6.) Administrator Observations – You know who does a slightly less-good job? Some administrators. Mine are awesome at this, though.

Potentially problematic ways to analyze teacher effectiveness:

7.) Conference and Workshop Attendance – How do you verify what a workshop is?

8.) Student Grades – Uh oh. How do you make sure that each teacher grades the same way on the same assignments?

Anyway, I don’t claim to have the answer, but I have a response to the question.

~Matt “Teachers Could Make $100K a Year” Vaudrey