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Swedish town mulls low pay for bad teachers

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16:00 CEST+02:00
A municipality in southern Sweden has moved one step closer to implementing a proposal which would tie teacher pay to students' performance on national standardized tests.

“The best teachers should be paid the best. And teachers' most important duty is to pass on knowledge,” said Lars Hemzelius, a member of the Liberal Party and chair of the high school and adult education committee in Trelleborg, to the Metro newspaper.

Starting as soon as the autumn of 2010, high school teachers in Trelleborg may see their paychecks fluctuate depending on how well their pupils score on the tests, following a decision taken by the city's education committee on Wednesday night.

The decision brings the controversial compensation model forward to the local administrative body governing Trelleborg's high schools, which is now charged will figuring out how the system will function in practice.

Local politicians are then expected to make a final ruling on the matter in April 2010.

Committee members from the four centre-right Alliance political parties all voted for the proposal, while members from the Social Democratic opposition abstained from participating in the decision.

“The proposal is way too weak and poorly supported,” Social Democrat Johnny Nilsson told the Trelleborgs Allehanda newspaper.

Hemzelius emphasized student performance wouldn't be the sole determinant of teacher pay, but that it would play an important role under the proposed system.

“It's an effective instrument for measuring students' knowledge,” he said of the tests, speaking with the Trelleborg Allehanda newspaper.

“Obviously one's entire salary shouldn't depend on students' performance. Instead it would be a compliment to the current pay system.”

Two of Sweden's major teachers unions, the Swedish Teachers Union (Lärarförbundet) and the National Union of Teachers in Sweden (Lärarnas Riksförbund) have previously expressed disapproval over the proposal.

“You have to take into account the student's entire situation and not only look at test results. A student's development encompasses quite a bit more,” Swedish Teachers Union chair Eva-Lis Sirén told the newspaper when the proposal first came up for discussion in February.

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