Performance Pay in Practice

October 23, 2008 1 min read
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Teacher pay for performance is no longer just a theoretical idea. USA Today reports that at least eight states, and dozens of districts, are experimenting with basing teacher salary increases and bonuses on student test performance. Some districts are using higher wages to attract teachers to hard-to-staff schools and teaching positions.

In Chicago, for example, teachers in select schools can earn as much as $8,000 in annual bonuses for improvements in students’ test results; while in Nashville, an incentive of up to $15,000 is being used to target middle school math teachers.

More dramatically, teachers in Washington, D.C. could potentially earn over $100,000 a year if a proposed “pay realignment” plan goes through. The catch is that teachers would have to give up tenure protections and work under a year long probationary period before earning big salaries.

Some preliminary research on performance pay has shown promising results. But, the idea has received mixed reactions from teachers, with a survey in January finding that “88% support bonuses for those who agree to work in hard-to-staff schools” but only “35% support them for improved test scores,” according to USA Today. The American Federation of Teachers supports pay raises for an entire teaching staff if test scores improve and for individuals if they get advanced degrees.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.


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