- In Education Next, a new op-ed argues conventional wisdom about merit pay for teachers is outdated and says it can actually help improve performance.
- Although some say merit or performance pay is not proven to help increase student performance, in some cases, attention paid to test scores alone overlooks how merit pay can attract new teachers to K-12 schools and improve professionalism.
- Overall, the op-ed notes, merit pay efficacy is misunderstood due to general misreadings of research that ignore a holistic look at the consequences of bonuses and performance pay for teachers.
The Education Next op-ed points out that foreign countries often offer merit pay to educators, with seemingly promising results. Ludger Woessmann, the author of study that examines the impact merit pay might have according to international data, found that countries that pay teachers based on their performance score did in fact scores higher on PISA tests.
In the U.S., however, the idea of merit-based pay remains largely controversial. In Newark, the district’s merit pay system, launched as part of an overhaul backed by a $100 million donation from Mark Zuckerberg, drew ire. The debate reflected a larger dispute over how teachers’ pay and quality would be determined, and the subsequent teacher evaluation was widely criticized by union and anti-reform advocates. More recently, in Texas, an educators' group has sued over the idea that teacher performance should be tied to student growth indicators.
Berkeley professor David L. Kirp says good teachers are the answer to any classroom dysfunction, and innovation, disruption, and competition can't solve that. "Merit pay invites rivalries among teachers, when what’s needed is collaboration," he wrote in a New York Times op-ed.