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Teachers' attitudes towards the application of merit pay programs in British Columbia Nijhar, Karnail Singh

Abstract

Eight years ago the members of the British Columbia Schools Trustees' Association recommended to the teaching profession in British Columbia that they give serious consideration to the proposition of including merit as one of the factors in the determination of their salaries. The British Columbia Teachers' Federation, representing the teaching profession in the province, was vigorous in its opposition to merit pay schedules. The purpose of the present study is to assess the attitudes of the rank and file in the profession, as opposed to the institutional stand of the Teachers' Federation towards this issue. A study of the existing salary structures for teachers in the province showed that the teachers were paid primarily on the basis of their training and experience. An examination of the literature on merit rating pointed out that the training and experience of a teacher could not be equated with his teaching performance, as the research studies conducted indicated very low correlationships between them. The first part of the study, therefore, concluded that the teachers in British Columbia are not being paid on the basis of their teaching experience. The attitudes of the teachers towards this issue of pay based on teaching performance were then examined. Responses from 402 teachers from all levels of the teaching profession were fed into an IBM computer and the results analyzed. Slightly less than half of them (48.0%) opposed merit rating, and the rest were either in favor (39.0%) or were uncertain or did not answer (13.0%). The study, however, showed that the opposition to merit pay was greater if this meant that salaries were to be affected by double increments or super-maxima salaries superimposed on the existing salary structure. The opposition would be lesser if the merit of a teacher was being recognized by rewarding him/her with supervisory posts carrying extra allowances, granting study leave or sabbatical leave, and awarding travel grants for approved purposes. The recommendations in the concluding chapter were made on this basis.

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