Mary-Lou Donnelly, president of the Canadian Teachers' Federation, said providing more money to teacher on the basis of student performance would not be effective because it would fail to account for the complex nature of teaching and learning.
"There's not any one right or wrong way to teach," she said. "Teaching is a creative process. And students' learning is very creative as well, and they learn in very diverse ways."
With most merit-pay proposals based on standardized testing scores for students, Donnelly said a pay-for performance system for teachers would discourage creativity since it would orient teachers toward achieving generic goals.
Donnelly added that it could even encourage teachers to leave certain districts in favour of higher-income neighbourhoods, where they could expect to find students scoring higher on tests.
Donnelly said a more efficient way to improve education would be to provide better working conditions for teachers: more opportunities for professional development, smaller class sizes and more resources to deal with special-needs students.