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Quality should determine teacher pay

Once again, there is a standoff between teachers and the government over teacher pay and conditions.

The Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) is unhappy that its request for capped class sizes, laptops and 4% pay rise have not been met.

One way to end these constant stalemates is to see standards introduced for teachers to career progression, enhance the status of teaching and give teachers a chance to work towards the higher pay for which they are fighting.

There is no doubt that good teachers deserve good reward. The trouble is, we cannot afford to pay every teacher, good, bad and downright lousy, $100,000 to stay in the profession. Some teachers should walk away from the classroom and pursue other careers that suit them better.

Currently all teachers, regardless of their quality, are paid at the same rate, making it difficult to attract and retain excellent teachers.

Introducing teacher standards would provide a way to assess the quality of teachers and reward them accordingly.

The concern from some sections seems to be largely connected to how “performance” would be measured.

If a teacher had a particularly difficult class, he or she may not get good results, despite being an excellent teacher, and may therefore receive an unfairly low pay.

The fear is that teachers would be assessed against crude criteria that cannot reflect their competence. Some argue that teaching would be oriented towards numerical results, without recognising multiple factors that go into good teaching.

These concerns are valid but do not mean we should throw out the entire idea of teacher standards. What it does mean is that any system should be carefully calibrated to get the best possible impression about how teachers perform.

Teacher standards would be a way of linking pay to quality, allowing excellent teachers to be identified and rewarded.

The status quo is far from ideal as we continue to wade through seemingly endless rounds of negotiations that leave all parties disappointed.

Maxim Institute

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