In the Teacher Quality Bulletin, Kate Walsh looks at how to do merit pay.
. . . while student achievement gains should be
the most important indicator of a teacher deserving of higher pay,
standardized tests scores paint too narrow of a picture to be a sole
indicator of a teacher’s worth. Putting merit pay decisions in the hands of states or even school districts officials still will lead to excessively complicated formulas that suppress the potential benefits that merit pay could achieve. As always, efforts at real reform must come down to the school building level.
To our thinking, states or school districts ought first to run carefully designed experiments with merit pay, entrusted in the hands of good principals who have proven track records with their schools performance. Give one group of these principals a fixed pot of money to newly staff a school — no more and no less money given to any other school in the district. Over a three- to five-year period, grant these principals the freedom to decide how to allocate their pot of money any way they see fit. The other group of principals would serve as the control group, and would have to work with the existing uniform salary schedule to staff its schools. At the
end of the experiment, compare the two groups on such critical factors as student achievement gains and teacher retention and let the results speak for themselves.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of principals out there who teachers don’t trust to evaluate merit. Perhaps this model would remove the excuses and clarify who those principals are.