School & District Management

Study Leads to End of New York City Merit-Pay Program

By Sarah D. Sparks — July 20, 2011 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Those who worry policymakers don’t use research when making program and budget decisions might take heart from this week’s news out of New York City: A new study by the Santa Monica, Calif.-based RAND Corp. put the final nail in the coffin of New York City’s teacher performance-pay program.

As my colleague Steve Sawchuk has reported over at Teacher Beat, the Big Apple’s Schoolwide Performance Bonus Program has awarded $50 million to teachers during from 2007 to 2010, but there has been mounting evidence that all those bonuses weren’t having much of an effect.

Apparently the RAND study, commissioned by New York City’s education department, was the final straw. The RAND researchers, like those in the previous studies, found the program did not raise student achievement in mathematics or reading in any grade, nor did it improve teacher job satisfaction. The findings led to the city’s decision last week to eliminate the program.

Researchers tracked the implementation of the Schoolwide Performance Bonus Program from 2007 through 2010, when it was temporarily suspended due to city budget constraints. Roland G. Fryer, Jr., an economics professor at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., who was not involved in the RAND study, randomly assigned 427 high-need schools to either participate or not in the program. RAND researchers used that treatment and control group, and conducted surveys of staff in those participating schools and conducted site visits and case studies of 14 participating schools over two years.

Researchers suggested that the program had not adequately motivated staff to understand the program or buy in to the criteria for the bonuses, and noticed that both participating and control schools already faced intense pressure to improve because of the city’s accountability measures.

Moreover, the majority of schools split their bonus pay equally among teachers, rather than awarding individual teachers for higher performance. As the report noted, “Many case-study respondents reported viewing the bonus as a reward for their usual efforts, not as an incentive for changing their behavior.”

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

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.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
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.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
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.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management 10 Ways to Tackle Education's Urgent Challenges
As the school year gets underway, we ask hard questions about education’s biggest challenges and offer some solutions.
2 min read
Conceptual Image of schools preparing for the pandemic
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
School & District Management Reported Essay Principals Need Social-Emotional Support, Too
By overlooking the well-being of their school leaders, districts could limit how much their schools can flourish.
7 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
School & District Management From Our Research Center Educator Stress, Anti-Racism, and Pandemic Response: How You're Feeling
A new nationally representative survey offers key takeaways from teachers, principals, and district leaders.
EdWeek Research Center
1 min read
2021 BI COVER no text DATA crop
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
School & District Management Download 8 Tips for Building a Digital Learning Plan That Conquers Chaos
Craft flexible strategies, encourage experimentation with new instructional models, and regularly solicit feedback.
1 min read
onsr edtech tips
Getty