TEACHER MERIT PAYWhat is it?• In the traditional system, teacher pay is based on seniority• In a Merit Pay System, classroom performance is used to determine part of each teacher’s salary• Whether a teacher receives a bonus is usually determined by a complex formula based on principal evaluations, classroom observations, and gains in standardized test results• Funding a Merit Pay System requires extra money in the form of grants or tax levies
TEACHER MERIT PAYOpponents of the Merit Pay System argue that such a system would:• Increase competition between teachers, when collaboration is preferable• Unfairly penalize those teaching low-income, non-English speaking, or developmentally disabled students• Result in teachers “teaching to the test” exclusively• Reallocate needed funds in already-strapped school districts because bonuses are ineffective unless they are a significant portion of a teacher’s income• Fail to provide teachers with financial stability, making the profession less desirable to the talented• Allow principals and school boards to reward their favorites rather than those who are deserving• Require an extensive and costly bureaucracy just to implement
TEACHER MERIT PAYHowever, proponents of the Merit Pay System argue that:• Collaboration can be rewarded by including it in the formula used to determine bonuses• A little competition is healthy, and professionals in other fields are rewarded based on performance• The promise of substantial bonuses will attract more talented teachers to the profession, retain high-quality teachers, and make clear which teachers should be removed for poor performance• Principal favoritism can be overcome by creating a clear rubric to determine bonuses and including other administrators, teachers, and even parents on the committee that determines bonuses• Rewarding teachers with bonuses doesn’t have to cost more than the Seniority System
SURVEYThirty respondents were surveyed to gather popular opinion regarding TeacherMerit Pay.Demographics:• 21 respondents (70%) lived in Ohio, while 9 lived in other states• 22 respondents (73%) were between the ages of 21 and 40• 8 respondents (27%) were older than 40• 5 respondents (17%) were employed at an elementary, middle, or high school• 8 respondents (27%) had a child enrolled in elementary, middle, or high school• 21 respondents (70%) had heard of Teacher Merit Pay prior to the survey
SURVEYWhich system do you prefer for determining teacher salaries? Merit Pay System 27% Neither 56% Seniority System 17%
SURVEYReasons given for preferring Merit Pay:• “Even if the teachers are "teaching to the test" at least they are teaching SOMETHING. I have metrics in my job, why not everyone?”• “If a teacher has been at a school for years, with or without good results, they may stick there. I had a math teacher in high school that none of the students in his classes did well. I graduated a few years ago and as far as I know, hes still there. Not fair to the student.”• “Pay for performance works elsewhere. Why not in schools?”• “Teachers would strive to improve their students performance and have a real financial reason to do so.”• “There are plenty of really good, young teachers who leave the profession do to low pay, low respect, etc. Its been shown that advanced degrees and seniority are not what makes an effective teacher.”
SURVEYReasons given for preferring the Seniority System:• “Experience means more than an ability to work the system.”• “A merit pay system creates perverse incentives that force teachers to teach to the test, teaching almost exclusively to those students not quite at standards who can plausibly be raised to standards while neglecting almost entirely the education of those who are at or above the minimum standards. Seniority puts teaching in line with other jobs and encourages long-term commitment to teachers improving their own educations and contributing to school districts.”• “In a seniority system, bad teachers can be weeded out. In a merit pay system, good teachers are punished due to factors beyond their control, like ho well a child slept the night before a tesr and whether the child has support at home.”• “The Merit Pay System just means the teacher is the best at teaching kids how to take standardized tests. I dont believe this is a quality education. And while older teachers dont necessarily equate GOOD teachers, it may mean they have more experience in catering to different students learning styles.”
SURVEYReasons given for preferring Neither Merit Pay nor Seniority:• “Students would benefit from a mixed system in that they would have access to experienced and highly educated teachers as well as those with innovative ideas who are willing to challenge the status quo; a balance is key to taking advantage of both sides.”• “Im not sure theres data that says merit pay is an effective incentivizer for helping teachers become more effective. It would be nice for school to become more collaborative in terms of teacher feedback, improvement, and student- centeredness.”• “Teachers should have their salaries increased when their students perform well and not based solely on their seniority, however, standardized testing does not reflect how well a teacher influences his or her students. Teachers should also not have to worry about being fired because of a standardized test.”
SURVEYOverall:• Respondents seemed to have a good grasp of what the Merit Pay System involves. Many learned about it from NPR or the news.• Respondents believed that a hybrid of Merit Pay and Seniority Systems would allow ineffective teachers to be removed (via the elimination of tenure) but would reward good teachers for more than just standardized test scores.• Several respondents mentioned increasing teacher salaries to be more commensurate with those received in other nations, such as Japan or Finland, which have higher standardized test scores and graduation rates.
TEACHER MERIT PAYDoes the Merit Pay System increase positive outcomes for students?Let’s take a quick look at Merit Pay Systems implemented in: Denver, Colorado New York City, New York Nashville, Tennessee Atlanta, Georgia
DENVER, COLORADOIn Denver:• Merit Pay was implemented in 2006• The new system required a $25 million tax levy• Teachers and district leaders collaborated on the rubrics used to determine bonuses• Teachers working with underprivileged, ESL, and developmentally disabled students receive an automatic bonus of $1,000The results:• Slight increases in teacher effectiveness - equivalent to “the difference in effectiveness between a first-year teacher and a second- or third-year teacher”• Vast improvement in teacher retention, retaining approximately 160 teachers per year more than before the system was implemented
NEW YORK CITY, NYIn New York City:• Merit Pay was implemented in 2008• Between 2008 and 2011, over $56 million was paid out in performance bonuses• Bonuses were awarded to schools rather than teachers, and most schools chose to distribute these bonuses evenly among teachers• Bonuses amounted to about $3,000 per teacherThe results:• A study performed by the RAND Corporation found that Merit Pay had “no positive effect on either student performance or teachers’ attitudes toward their jobs”• The program has been discontinued in light of this information and increasing budget constraints
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEEIn Nashville:• Merit Pay was implemented from 2006 to 2009• Middle-school math teachers were offered bonuses of up to $15,000• Bonuses were determined only by test scores• Teachers received no mentoring or professional developmentThe results:• A study performed by Vanderbilt University found that classes taught by teachers rewarded bonuses progressed no more quickly than those taught by colleagues in a control group who were not receiving bonuses• Teachers gradually lost enthusiasm for bonus pay as the study progressed• Most teachers claimed they changed little or nothing about their teaching methods in response to the possibility of receiving a bonus
ATLANTA, GEORGIAIn Atlanta:• Merit Pay was implemented in 2009• Bonuses as large as $500,000 were awarded to schools with achievement gains• Bonuses were largely determined by test scoresThe results:• 180 educators and 38 principals at 13 schools were implicated in a district-wide cheating scandal• Teachers were intimidated and coerced into changing student scores, sometimes at organized test-score changing “parties”• Principals rewarded teachers who toed the party line with bonuses and punished those who refused to cheat with negative performance reviews, even reporting many to the district
CONCLUSIONSYou may make your own conclusion based on these facts, but here is mine:Teacher merit pay can provide small gains in student achievement, but thesystem is fraught with too many problems to be worth the costs and risks.• Atlanta is not the only city facing a cheating scandal. Teachers and principals have been accused of cheating in Houston, TX; Washington, DC; and other districts.• Merit pay systems are costly to implement and maintain, both in terms of money and time. Florida spent $4 million just to create the formula to determine bonuses for their new program. Administrators and teachers spend countless hours record-keeping and determining who will receive bonuses.• A large body of evidence exists showing that teacher experience and content- area knowledge are consistently linked with student achievement. Little to no evidence exists that Merit Pay Systems improve student achievement.
CONCLUSIONSThank you for viewing my presentation, and don’t forget to check out the resources on the next page!
References:Pros and Cons of Teacher Merit Pay – Educational ResearchMerit Pay: Good for Teachers? - ScholasticDPS teacher-pay system likely boosting student achievement, study finds - The Denver PostNew York City Abandons Teacher Bonus Program – New York TimesMerit pay study: Teacher bonuses dont raise student test scores – USA TodayInvestigation into APS cheating finds unethical behavior across every level – AJCCheating Atlanta Schools Received $500K in Bonuses, What Now? – Color LinesFlorida teachers get ready to get graded – The Miami HeraldTeacher Quality - Education Week