The Trouble With Pay for Performance
Virtually everyone agrees that educators should be held accountable for student achievement, and pay for performance is often suggested as a method for rewarding those teachers whose students demonstrate adequate yearly progress, or AYP. The question is how to adequately and fairly evaluate a teacher’s performance relative to how it affects student achievement, and then to determine how to compensate those teachers whose students demonstrate AYP or beyond.
There is a dearth of research that supports paying teachers beyond their base salaries to improve student achievement, but there is a broad body of research that indicates that pay for performance might actually do damage as teachers feel a threat to their livelihoods because of this narrow method of measuring their efficacy. Pay for performance has been documented as compromising the good will and cooperation among teachers since it creates competition for a small amount of money, which can result in an “I’m out for myself only” attitude. Such a tone can hurt the necessary collaboration and communication found to nurture student achievement and success.
Further, what if students see no reason to perform well since their classroom grades do not reflect their individual performance on such assessments? The National Center on Performance Incentives , created during President George W. Bush’s administration, found no conclusive evidence on the power of financial awards in promoting more effective teaching and evaluating student performance, or on the long-term effect of performance awards on the...
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