Should Teachers Be Paid For Performance? Is It In The Interests Of Better Education?

Some school boards are looking to introduce pay for performance bonus systems for teachers, while others have already done so. On the surface of it, it makes some common sense that better teachers should receive compensation for being better teachers, but in fact, it's a much more complex issue than it might seem to be on the surface.

There are a lot of practical issues about how to administer these systems in a fair, objective way, but there's also another central issue which has to do with whether paying "better teachers" more will actually improve the school system. There's research that suggests it doesn't work, and I've explained one of the reasons why pay for performance doesn't address the causes of school problems.

Still it's important to understand the arguments on both sides, so below are collected some of the better articles, research studies, and opinion pieces on this important topic.

One note: As you read these remember that often the writers and researchers can have biases from the start. For example, it's not surprising that the NEA, or other teachers' unions are against pay for performance for teachers, since unions never support such schemes regardless of industry. Similarly, there are political biases, Democrat vs Republican, Left vs. Right and so on. It's good to keep that in mind because even research can be contaminated by bias, even unintentionally.

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School districts are looking at, or have started implementing a pay for performance system for teachers, where they are trying to reward "better teachers". It's a very hard system to make work, so we're going to explore the good, bad and ugly of merit pay for teachers through articles, research and

Research, Opinions, Articles On Pay For Performance For Teachers: Pay For Performance For Teachers

Merit pay doesn't cause teachers to teach to the test, study finds - by Max Ehrenfreund
One of the critiques teacher merit pay is that it will further push teachers to teach to the test. This Washington Post article shares some results from a study that suggests that is not the case. (Views So Far 233 )

NEA - Examining Merit Pay - by NEA
Written for teachers, this NEA article looks at what merit pay might mean to them, but its value is in the review of the various methods that can be used to evaluate teachers and allocate merit pay. (Views So Far 306 )

New Study: Merit Pay Does Not Boost Student Achievement | NEA Today - by NEA
Yet again, researchers have determined that paying teachers a bonus based on student performance does not improve the achievement of those students. A pay-for-performance study released by Vanderbilt University and the RAND Corporation followed nearly 300 Nashville Public Schools fifth- through eighth-grade teachers from 2007 to 2009. The result? No overall effect on student achievement across the entire treatment group. "We sought a clean test of the basic proposition: If teachers know they will be rewarded for an increase in their students' test scores, will test scores go up?," said Matthew Springer, executive director of Vanderbilt's National Center on Performance Incentives. "We found that the answer to that question is no." (Views So Far 460 )

New York City's School-Wide Performance Bonus Program - by Vanderbilt University
Early research report looking at New York City's performance bonus system for teachers. Only first year analysis is available. (Views So Far 296 )

Paying Teachers for Results - by Center For American Progress
Organization pushing for paying teachers for results. I suspect the organization has a right wing bias, but included here for completeness. (Views So Far 336 )

POINT Experiment - Evaluation of Nashville's Teacher Bonus System - by Vanderbilt University
In an effort to explore the impact of performance incentives in education, the National Center on Performance Incentives (NCPI) partnered with the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) to conduct the Project on Incentives in Teaching, or POINT. The study examines the effects on student outcomes of paying eligible teachers bonuses of up to $15,000 per year on the student test-score gains on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP). More specifically, the analysis is designed to address several impact areas, including student achievement, teacher behavior, organizational dynamics, unintended consequences, and cost effectiveness. (Views So Far 299 )

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