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Pay for Performance Doesn’t Raise Test Scores

Education Policy Pay for Performance Doesn’t Work

I think that anyone who has known or has had a superlative teacher realizes that teachers do not enter their profession for the financial rewards it offers.  They do it from their heart.  So, I guess it shouldn’t be a revelation that merit pay does not impact a teacher’s performance.  I would guess that professional development, coaching, and team teaching would be bigger drivers.  But this is the first official and scientific study on merit pay for student performance so it helps to shed light on what works (and doesn’t) to impact student test scores.

This article is from Politics Daily.  Here’s the link.  The article is by Christopher Connell.

Here are some key paragraphs:

NASHVILLE – Offering middle-school math teachers bonuses up to $15,000 did not produce gains in student test scores, Vanderbilt University researchers reported Tuesday in what they said was the first scientifically rigorous test of merit pay.

The results could amount to a cautionary flag about paying teachers for the performance of their students, a reform strategy the Obama administration and many states and school districts have favored despite lukewarm support or outright opposition from teachers’ unions.

The report’s authors, of the National Center on Performance Incentives (NCPI) at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education, stress that theirs is just one approach to giving teachers incentives to boost student achievement. The Nashville teachers who hit the mark based on their students’ test scores received a bump in their paychecks for their efforts but no additional mentoring or professional development. Neither their principals nor fellow teachers knew who participated in the experiment or who received bonuses.

In surveys about the program, most teachers said they were already effective without the incentive of additional pay. Eight in ten said they didn’t change the way they taught to improve their odds of earning a bonus. Many teachers came close to getting a bonus – so close that they would have qualified if their pupils answered two or three more questions correctly on the 55-question state exam.

William Slotnik, executive director of the Boston-based Institute for Compensation Reform and Student Learning at the Community Training and Assistance Center, has argued that performance-based compensation tied directly to the educational mission of a school district can be a lever to transform schools. But he said it will take more than financial incentives to improve student achievement and that merit pay “is hard to get right. … If all you are doing is focusing on money, there is no track record in that resulting in the kind of changes needed to do this work well.”

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom

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