NC teachers compare merit pay to 'Hunger Games' - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

NC teachers compare merit pay to 'Hunger Games'

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NC teachers compare merit pay to 'Hunger Games.' NC teachers compare merit pay to 'Hunger Games.'

All eyes will be on Raleigh tomorrow as lawmakers meet to decide on some major issues, including the very controversial topic of teacher pay.

A UNCW graduate and professor recently surveyed 800 North Carolina public school teachers on teacher evaluations and merit pay.

"Many suggested in their comments that merit pay would lead to the Hunger Games of public educators," said recent UNCW graduate Megan Oakes, referring to the competitive culture performance-based pay could create.

The state has mandates and proposals in place to raise teachers' pay based on performance.

In the NC Teacher Evaluation and Merit Pay study, 1% of teachers said that merit pay would have a positive impact on teacher morale, retention, or the quality of teaching. About 89% of teachers said that the performance-based pay will disrupt the collaborative nature of teaching.

"The data speaks for itself, but I think what really speaks is the comments that were left in regards to how these teachers feel disrespected and not valued in their profession every day," Oakes explained.

Teacher Evaluations

Directly tied to merit-based pay are teacher evaluations.

The state is looking to use Standard 6, which evaluates teachers on how well their students perform on state-mandated tests.

Laney teacher Dallas Brown said he does not understand the new addition to the evaluation process.

"They have to come up with a better assessment of how do you determine what a kid does," Brown said.

The majority of teachers reported insufficient training, time, and understanding of Standard 6, and 3 out of 4 teachers said they spent too much time helping students prepare for these tests, which don't show the value of a student's learning.

"More than anything else, we need to get teachers involved in the process. We're the ones, the grunts. We're the ones on the front line. We see these kids every day we know what it takes to get them to the next level," Brown commented.  "When you start throwing hurdles and those kinds of things in there, teachers are going to do what they have to do to survive and keep their job."

Oakes said that these mandated tests take away from a teacher's creativity and is ultimately hurting students' learning experience.

"Growth happens in communications skills. It happens in teamwork skills. Growth is not necessarily a test score and what you're doing is saying that a teacher might be good or bad based on that standardized test," Oakes said.

Teachers' Future

Oakes said the most awakening part of the study was the amount of teachers leaving the profession.

The study shows 1 in 5 teachers reported they plan to leave education in North Carolina as soon as they can.

"The underlying message is that public education in our state is indeed headed in the wrong direction and I think that teachers want to be heard and they're not being heard," Oakes said. "They feel disrespected and not valued in their profession, a profession that's considered to be one of the most toughest and admirable professions in our society, and we're losing them daily, and it's because you know a lot of it has to do with pay, but a lot of them feel like they're being held accountable for test scores. They feel micromanaged and undervalued," she continued.

Last week Governor Pat McCrory proposed a 2% raise for all teachers. Many education advocates are hoping for changes in merit-based pay and teacher evaluation will be discussed and changed as well.

To look at the entire survey visit

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