Merit pay boosts scores

Merit pay for teachers was linked to higher test scores for students in a University of Florida study.

Pay incentives for teachers had more positive effects on student test scores than such school improvement methods as smaller class sizes or stricter requirements for classroom attendance, said David Figlio, a UF economics professor.

Pay incentives made the most difference in schools with low-income students.

About 16 percent of American schools have teacher pay-for-performance programs in place, Figlio said. Such financial incentives were the rule rather than the exception early in the 20th century, but they gradually became less prevalent starting in the 1960s, probably because of the rising strength of teachers’ unions, he said.

Performance pay linked to principal’s evaluations of teachers isn’t effective, said Figlio, because “principals are under a huge amount of pressure to say that everybody is excellent.” Merit pay also makes little difference if most teachers get a small amount; what works is giving more money to a few teachers.

Update: Vanderbilt’s National Center on Performance Incentives will study the effect of merit pay for Nashville teachers.

Almost 300 Metro middle school teachers were selected to participate in a five-year study. Some teachers will walk away with a $750 stipend for participating, and others will net $5,000 to $15,000 a year for improving student test scores.

The Metro Nashville Education Association, the teachers union, must OK the bonus payments. Last year, the union rejected a $400,000 merit pay donation that would have paid up to $6,000 extra to teachers at two low-performing elementary schools.

Association President Jamye Merritt said the money was rejected because the terms of the gift were unclear, and teachers didn’t know what expectations they would need to meet.

“People take money every day for things I would not do … there are people that are paid to be assassins,” she said. “Sometimes it’s just not worth the sacrifice you would have to make for the money.”

Raising test scores, committing murder. Pretty much the same thing.

However, union leaders are backing the Vanderbilt study.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. I have found that merit pay does not make a difference. Good teachers always give it their all when teaching. It isn’t about the money. It’s about the kids.

  2. BettyB wrote:

    Good teachers always give it their all when teaching.

    What about bad teachers? Teachers in between?

    It’s a measure of how far from reality the public education system has strayed that the notion of pay for performance is so sincerely disputed. In any other profession I can think of the linkage between performance and reward is simply assumed and in the public education system it’s the opposite that’s, if not assumed, at least forcefully promoted.

  3. BettyB wrote:
    > Good teachers always give it their all when teaching.

    and should be amply rewarded for doing so.

  4. Catch Thirty Thr33 says:

    If it wasn’t about the money and ALL about the kids, why aren’t teachers teaching for free?

  5. Just what I would want my union to do. Turn down free money because they don’t know exactly what I would have to do to earn it. Yeah, that’s right.

  6. Andy Freeman says:

    > > Good teachers always give it their all when teaching.

    > and should be amply rewarded for doing so.

    Why?

    If money doesn’t make any difference, why should we pay them “amply”?

    Any significant increases in teacher pay must be accomplied by replacing the current teachers. Why? Because either they weren’t giving their all or their all wasn’t adequate and giving them more money won’t produce results. Either way, they should be replaced.

  7. I write from New Jersey where, in addition to investigating obvious cheating by teachers and administrators in Camden, the state is questioning state test performance in dozens more schools and districts. Let’s be a little careful in equating great teaching and student scores on state-developed tests.

  8. I believe that’s referred too as fraud. I think the a couple of felony convictions, complete jacket-covered heads and some real prison time ought to have an ameliorative effect on the problem. I can just see it now….

    “What are you in for?”
    “Carjacking and trafficking in stolen goods. You?”
    “Cheating on AYP tests.”
    “Lotta money in that?”
    “You can’t imagine”

  9. > > > Good teachers always give it their all when teaching.

    > > and should be amply rewarded for doing so.

    > Why?

    > If money doesn’t make any difference, why should we pay them “amply”?

    Then maybe we can pay them less and save some money, it doesn’t make any difference to their teaching anyway.