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Tenure Changes—but not Merit Pay—Popular in Jersey

A large majority of New Jerseyites—70 percent—see teacher tenure protections as an obstacle to removing ineffective teachers, a new poll has found. Yet 63 percent oppose basing teacher pay on test results.

The results of the Rutgers-Eagleton poll were released as the state's Republican governor, Chris Christie, is supporting a pay-for-performance plan that would tie teacher compensation partly to student achievement gains.

As with any poll, it's difficult to know if the results would be different if a slightly different question was asked. Would a large majority of voters have opposed merit pay if it was clear to them that student test scores were only one factor in how educators were being judged?

Here's the partisan breakdown on the merit-pay question: 68 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of Independents said they don't support linking teacher salaries to pupil test scores. When it comes to tenure, with 60 percent of Democrats seeing it as a barrier to removing ineffective teachers, rather than as an important job protection. Eighty percent of GOP voters and 75 percent of Independents believe tenure is an impediment to removing educators who aren't cutting it, according to the poll, taken of registered voters last month.

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