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GRE Issue 30: Teachers' Salaries Should Be Based On Their Students' Academic Performance - With A Free Essay Review

PROMPT: "Teachers' salaries should be based on their students' academic performance.Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, be sure to address the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used to challenge your position."

The statement claims that teachers’ salaries should be based on their students’ academic performance. This statement is reasonable since without the basis of students’ performance, it is hard for schools to determine how much salary teachers should receive and some teachers are expected to be irresponsible for students’ performance. However, students’ academic performance should not be the only factor in determining teachers’ salaries. Therefore, other factors should also be taken into account when it comes to teachers’ wages.

It goes without saying that if students’ academic performance has nothing to do with teachers’ salaries, some teachers are likely to become feckless and idle in some ways. Take my English teacher for example. Previously, in my school, teachers’ salaries were not influenced by the quality of students’ academic performance, which led my English teacher to be irresponsible. Sometimes, he was late for class as well as even forgetting to bring the textbook he should use during the lecture. Sometimes, when I finished my essay and wanted him to review it for the purpose of receiving some valuable suggestions and thus improving my writing skills, he just read it cursorily, giving few pieces of advice to me. Due to his irresponsibility, my English academic performance, especially writing skills, did not improve for a long time. However, after the policy that teachers’ salaries were based on their students’ academic performance was put into effect, my English teacher paid much attention to students’ academic performance, helping them solve the problems they encountered in study. As a result, apart from me, most students’ writing performance improved dramatically. Therefore, in order to prevent teachers from being irresponsible, teachers’ salaries should be based on their students’ academic performance.

However, despite the fact that the policy mentioned above is favorable, it might cause several serious weaknesses if teachers’ wages are only based on the performance of students. Under this policy, teachers are likely to focus only on academic performance, which has a negative influence on students in some respects, such as all-round development. Teachers in Chinese schools are an excellent example of this point. Chinese teachers, whose salaries are almost determined by students’ academic performance, take great pains to improve academic performance without paying little attention on students’ interest and hobbies. In order to increase the promotion rate, the most significant index reflecting academic performance in China, teachers assign large amounts of homework to students and instruct them to cram for examinations without deep thinking. Ironically, after graduating from schools, a large majority of students forget what they recited immediately. Thus, as we can see, provided teachers’ salaries are only based on their students’ academic performance, the exam-oriented education could finally take the place of quality-oriented one in the future, producing lots of robots who lack their own thoughts.

For the sake of avoiding both complications caused by two extreme cases, a proper way may be that teachers’ wages should be based on their students’ academic performance to some extent and other factors, such as the quality of pedagogy of teachers, should be taken into consideration too.



This essay does not respond well to the instructions. You are asked to "address the most compelling reasons or examples that could be used to challenge your position" but you don't do this; your position is articulated in the final paragraph, and you don't consider any possible objections to that position.

Your first argument is supported by a single example. You argue that teachers' salaries should be based on their students' academic performance because you once knew a teacher whose performance improved as soon as his salary became tied to the performance of his students. That's a fairly weak argument (I would need only one counterexample to disprove it). It is also an unnecessary argument, and you spend too much time on it. What you demonstrate to your reader with a relatively long story about your English teacher is your ability to tell stories. What you need to demonstrate is your ability to analyse an issue. Note that you could keep your example as support for your argument without devoting time to telling the story. You could for instance just say "I once had a teacher who became much more effective when our school adopted the policy of basing salary on performance."

Your second argument is that the policy might lead teachers to focus on preparation for examinations and sacrifice other aspects of a quality education. That's a reasonable argument, but a bit vague with respect to the concept of "all round development," which you think might be neglected. You then conclude with a solution to the problem you've identified, suggesting that salaries could be based both on academic performance and "the quality of pedagogy." That's a good solution if you know how to determine "quality" without recourse to academic performance.

So the position you establish is a little bit vague (again, with respect to how to base salary on quality) and you don't address possible objections to that position, which you must do. If you meant your second argument to stand as an objection to your initial position that salaries should be based on performance, then you would need to set up the essay differently (and you would probably need to come to a different conclusion.) The easiest way to set up the essay differently would be to claim to be in favor of teachers' salaries being tied to student performance, and then defeat in one way or another the objection that such a policy would lead to a one-sided, exam-oriented education. If you wanted to keep the argument that you've made here in favor of basing salary on both academic performance and the general quality of teaching, then you need to address a different possible objection (e.g., the policy would be unfair because many different factors impact student performance; or, the policy would be the wrong way to address problem of poor education: we should fire bad teachers, not underpay them; or we should reduce the funding to the school not the salary of the teacher; or we need teachers' salaries to be high and secure in order to attract the best possible teachers in the first place).

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: hahaxiao66

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