Reader’s Letter: Introducing merit pay for teachers on St. Maarten

POSTED: 06/14/11 12:27 PM

Dear Editor,

 

The new salary system for teachers, which was officially implemented in St. Maarten in August, 2007 provides the opportunity to introduce a merit pay based system for teachers on St. Maarten. In the old salary system teachers were financially compensated based on the amount of diplomas they have and their years on the job.

Four years have passed since the implementation of the new salary system for teachers but policy makers in education have been pussy footing on this issue. Recently the WITU has learnt that the Department of Education Research and Policy Innovation (DERPI) has been commissioned by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport to work out a performance management policy for teachers. The WITU does not, in principal, oppose a merit based pay for teachers for at the moment most teachers are qualified as a C or B teacher and almost no teachers have been qualified as an A teacher, the highest level a teacher can be qualified as in the new salary system for teachers.

Merit pay, or compensating teachers for classroom performance, can be a good idea so long as school managers use objective standards. It also has its down sides.

1. It is a system which measures teacher’s performance and their pay check will be based on the evaluation of school administrators.

2. Test scores could be the foundation for defining a good teacher’s salary.

3. School managers will have the power to determine a teacher’s salary.

In addition to the above it should not only be depend on school managers’ decisions because the relationship between school managers and a teacher could be “tainted”. The teacher that the school manager “likes” will always be positively evaluated and the one he or she “dislikes” will be evaluated harshly with the conclusion already decided before evaluation.

In conclusion the WITU will be definitely monitoring this development of merit pay for teachers as the WITU is a very important stakeholder in St. Maarten’s education system.

Robert Rawlins

WITU Board Member

 

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