While I’m not in the business of advocating policy positions, I’m on record as supporting some form of merit pay for teachers. But I would never, ever promote it using one justification you hear often from proponents of primarily test-score-based performance pay: that in the real world, workers are paid based on measurable outcomes. Really? Sure, salesmen get commissions. But lawyers, doctors, accountants, consultants, journalists, politicians, policy makers? Bosses judge how valuable their skilled employees are using subjective judgments about effectiveness and pay accordingly.
Quantifiable measures rarely form the basis of that calculus, unless you blog at Gawker (and even they seem to have abandoned the model). So can we put a halt to that rhetorical fallacy? And why not revisit the blanket opposition to subjectivity playing a role in rewarding great teachers, the way it does in so many other professions? “My principal might have it out for me” does not convince me.