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School Board's choice to offer bonus a concern
by Karen Eakes


October 03, 2004

In reference to the recent contract negotiations with our District Superintendent, it is very concerning to me that the School Board chose to offer a $2,500.00 "bonus" to Mr. Martin for continuing improvement in reading test scores. The Board is instituting a very questionable practice through this offer, a practice that has proven very destructive in other places.

Offering a financial incentive to the Superintendent, or any other educational employee for that matter, to improve test scores may very well lead to some serious problems in our district. Rewards such as this have been tied to unethical behavior that has occurred all over the country. Test scores have been manipulated. Tests have been invalidated by how they were given and to whom they were given. Often, "teaching to the test" has become the major part of the curriculum in many schools due to the pressure to improve test scores.

Many people do not understand that there are major differences between running a business and administering the teaching/learning process that occurs in schools. It may be appropriate business practice to offer financial incentives to employees for instituting product improvements or increasing sales. However, students are not products on an assembly line. They are individauls with very different learning styles, rates, interests, strengths and weaknesses that all need to be accommodated to the best ability of the system.

There are just too many variables in the teaching/learning process to offer financial incentives for increasing test scores. It is very regrettable that the Board chose to do so.


Karen Eakes
Ketchikan, Alaska - USA



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