Performance pay for teachers didn’t boost student achievement, according to a Mathematica study of the Chicago Teacher Advancement Program. The first two years of the pilot also showed no improvement in teacher retention at participating schools.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan was running Chicago schools when TAP was started, with support from the teachers’ union, and his Race to the Top is pushing states to adopt performance-based pay schemes.
Nobody knows why TAP had no effect, reports Education Week. However, Chicago changed the TAP model, spreading bonus money among teachers, principal and staff instead of just teachers.
Because of problems with obtaining student-growth data linked to individual teachers, Chicago also paid bonuses based on schoolwide, rather than classroom achievement growth. The National Institute for Excellence recommends that at least 30 percent of bonus pay be based on the results of classroom measures of student growth.
Chicago also paid smaller bonuses than recommended — an average of $1,100 in the first year and $2,600 for teachers in schools in their second year of TAP.
The federal Teacher Incentive Fund, which supports performance pay pilots, tells applicants “that average bonus payouts for educators should be ‘substantial,’ perhaps 5 percent of the average teacher salary, and that top-performing educators should earn far beyond that amount, perhaps three times as much,” reports Ed Week. Chicago’s plan may have been too diluted to make a difference.