Education Letter to the Editor

Ravitch’s Merit-Pay Comments Said to Distort Study

November 09, 2010 1 min read

To the Editor:

In a blog post excerpted in a recent issue, Diane Ravitch uses a study very incompletely to funnel propaganda through your publication. In “Merit Pay Fails Another Test” (Blogs of the Week, Oct. 6, 2010), she writes more definitively and absolutely than the very authors of the National Center on Performance Incentives study that she references. She states: “Bottom line: Merit pay made no difference. Teachers were working as hard as they knew how, whether for a bonus or not.” While the matter is not proven, my experience suggests that incentive structures can have important impacts on job satisfaction and retention, shaping human capital and influencing quality over time.

Sure enough, a quick search of this incentives study for “retention” leads to the following extremely important disclaimer at the bottom of Page 47: “Finally, we note that advocates of incentive pay often have in mind an entirely different goal from that tested by Project on Incentives in Teaching, or POINT. Their support rests on the view that over the long term, incentive pay will alter the makeup of the workforce for the better by affecting who enters teaching and how long they remain. POINT was not designed to test that hypothesis and has provided only limited information on retention decisions. A more carefully crafted study conducted over a much longer period of time is required to explore the relationship between compensation reform and professional quality that operates through these channels.”

I want to bring this critical distinction to the attention of readers who might otherwise take the historian Diane Ravitch’s commentary for fact.

Chris Lozier

Chicago, Ill.

A version of this article appeared in the November 10, 2010 edition of Education Week as Ravitch’s Merit-Pay Comments Said to Distort Study

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Elementary Teacher - Scholars Academy
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read