• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Merit Pay for Teachers Shows Results

    A new study shows that merit-based pay for teachers can improve student test scores, The Washington Times reports. The Achievement Challenge Pilot Project (ACPP) covered five schools in Little Rock, Arkansas. Teachers could earn as much as an $11,000 bonus based on how much their students’ test scores improved.

    Researchers from the University of Arkansas report: “Students of teachers who are eligible for performance bonuses enjoy academic benefits. Further, many of the criticisms of merit pay programs simply have not proven true in Little Rock.”

    Teachers didn’t report any of the problems that opponents have predicted would result from performance pay: a divisive school atmosphere, neglect of low-performing students, and favoritism.

    Some Members of Congress are considering including performance pay in legislation to renew the No Child Left Behind Act. But it would be a mistake for Washington to begin setting pay policies for the country’s 15,000 school districts. The ACPP was a state-conceived initiative. The best way to encourage innovative policies is by reducing the federal role in education. States and local communities would then have more flexibility to experiment with new approaches.

    After all, arguments against performance pay have some merit. Conceivably, a principal could show favoritism toward a teacher who happens to be his golfing buddy. Any reform has to be designed and implemented in a way that avoids those problems, and there is no reason to believe that Washington is best suited for the task.

    Almost every business in the private sector has found a way to evaluate, pay, and promote employees based on their individual performance. Their motivation in doing so is direct accountability to investors and shareholders. Likewise, state officials and local school boards are better positioned to design effective, innovative education policies because they are more directly accountable to parents and taxpayers.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Merit Pay for Teachers Shows Results

    1. Denise Treesh Muskeg says:

      I have been on the fence concerning this issue because as a theraist I know that if kids don't come to school ready to learn, due to home environment, a teacher may have little effect. On the other hand, this year is the first year my granddaughter – who thinks school should be 7 days per week, all year round, hates going to school due to teacher who is verbally abusive -leaving her to beg not to have to go to shcool (a shocker to us) and the school principle claims he can't do anything.

      I think parents need to unite and go after these teachers who permenently download negative information about a child into their subconscious mind that negatively impact their self-image long term.

    2. Marvin McConoughey O says:

      Merit pay is inherent in the human condition. We pay more to eat at places we value and less elsewhere. The notorious stagnation of the teaching profession owes much to its bizarre lack of respect for high teaching performance. The failures are so extreme that it is common to find both the lowest and the highest performing teachers in a school being paid the same for the same seniority and academic credentials.

    3. John, Kansas City says:

      The ACPP also concluded that teachers in the program were no more innovative than comparison teachers and were no more likely to work harder than comparison teachers. Also, the average gain in test scores was 1-2 points.

      Rewarding educators based on student test scores would further exacerbate the "teach to the test" syndrome that has narrowed the curriculum and dulled the educational experience for students and teachers.

      What is the core message and meaning of our educational system? Is it the priority test results or meaningful learning?

    4. Mike Handelsman, Bro says:

      Surely we're not just talking about "golfing buddies", as to which principal-teacher relationships could render meaningless any subjectively applied merit system! As for using student test scores, will the merit proponents please explain how teachers gearing their lessons to the test will be discerned from those who do not? And the Washington Times study quoted here does nothing to clarify the means of adjusting for the very complicating factor of prior achievement, let alone "socioeconomic status, race and gender". We all want a system that is fair to teachers and students alike, but for the sake of intellectual honesty, such a system must stand up to the most rigorous standards of objectivity!

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×