merit pay

This tag is associated with 4 posts

Background Research on Performance Pay

researchToday someone queried my assertion that there is a lot of research confirming the detrimental effects of performance pay.  The challenge seemed to be that volume of research does not equate to good research.  That’s a good point, and I think the person that made it is in a position to know it is true.

So, for anyone wanting to check out some of the research for themselves (which is always a good plan – you shouldn’t take my word or anyone else’s word for anything) here are some links to research and reports to start you off, along with some quotes to give you food for thought.

Eight brief points about “merit pay” for teachers, by Daniel Pinks


Government proposal for education needs to be based on evidence, says The New Zealand Psychological Society (NZPsS)


Credentials Versus Performance: Review of the Teacher Performance Pay Research, by Michael Podgursky, Department of Economics, University of Missouri–Columbia, and Matthew G. Springer, Department of Leadership Policy, and Organizations, Peabody College of Vanderbilt University (2007) – This research argues that performance pay may be a positive move, but the researchers state they have not outlined what that would look like or how it would work, and they suggest field trials and more research on this.


We find that financial incentives may indeed reduce intrinsic motivation and diminish ethical or other reasons for complying with workplace social norms such as fairness. As a consequence, the provision of incentives can result in a negative impact on overall performance.”

London School of Economics 


New York City abandons merit pay for teachers

“…in light of a study that found the bonuses had no positive effect on either student performance or teachers’ attitudes toward their jobs.”


“We tested the most basic and foundational question related to performance incentives — “Does bonus pay alone improve student outcomes?” – and we found that it does not,” 

Matthew Springer, executive director of the National Center on Performance Incentives.


Teacher performance pay alone does not raise student test scores

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Final Report: Experimental Evidence from the Project on Incentives in Teaching (POINT)

Rewarding teachers with bonus pay, in the absence of any other support programs, does not raise student test scores

National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody

College of Education and Human Development in partnership with the RAND Corporation.


Performance-Related Pay – Wikipedia:

Academic evidence has increasingly mounted indicating that performance related pay leads to the opposite of the desired outcomes when it is applied to any work involving cognitive rather than physical skill. Research[2] funded by the Federal Reserve Bank undertaken at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology  with input from professors from the University of Chicago and Carnegie Mellon University repeatedly demonstrated that as long as the tasks being undertaken are purely mechanical performance related pay works as expected. However once rudimentary cognitive skills are required it actually leads to poorer performance. These experiments have since been repeated by a range of economists…


Pay-for-Performance (Federal Government) – Wikipedia


Merit Pay – Wikipedia


Dollars and Sense:

“…mixed findings underscore the challenge of designing a system of teachers’ compensation that rewards quality in a fair and equitable manner”

(Note this research deemed success to be raised test scores in maths and English, which raises the question of whether merit pay led to teaching to the test or whether things really improved for the students’ education as a whole)


A Big Apple for Educators



“Financial incentives for teachers to increase student performance is an increasingly popular education policy around the world. This paper describes a school-based randomized trial in over two-hundred New York City public schools designed to better understand the impact of teacher incentives on student achievement. I find no evidence that teacher incentives increase student performance, attendance, or graduation, nor do I find any evidence that the incentives change student or teacher behavior. If anything, teacher incentives may decrease student achievement, especially in larger schools. The paper concludes with a speculative discussion of theories that may explain these stark results.”



Again, feel free to add links to other research in the comments below, so we can read, ponder and learn more.

Thanks, Dianne

Sign the petition against performance pay for teachers

If you DO NOT support performance pay for teachers, please sign this petition to Hekia Parata.

She says teachers are in favour of it.  If we are not, we need to make sure she is very clear that isn’t the case.  It will also serve to inform the wider public that teachers do not want performance pay as it is detrimental to the very teamwork and best practice we need to do our jobs well.

Thanks, Dianne

PP joke 6


PP joke 3


PP joke 4


Why do teachers not want performance pay?

Oh, well that’s easy enough – because it doesn’t work.  In fact, it is counter-productive.  There, that’s that done.

Wait!  What?  You want more?  Dagnabbit, will I never get to my chores? Okay here goes…


thrree chutes only - teamwork

– Performance pay creates barriers to teamwork and creativity – both absolutely essential in teaching.

– Performance pay is difficult to measure – faulty systems for judging who is/is not a good teacher are very destructive.

– Performance pay takes no account of factors outside the control of the teacher.

– Performance pay motivates employees to focus only on doing what they need to do to gain the rewards, at the expense of doing other things that would help their students, the school, and the system as a whole.

– Performance pay is a barrier to teamwork and collegiality, meaning teachers are less likely to ask for help or share best practice.

– Performance pay has a destructive effect on intrinsic motivation.

– Performance pay has negative effects on workers’ self-esteem.

In other words, it stands in the way of the very things schools need to work well.


This fabulous video will explain precisely why performance pay is not a good motivator.  Watch it, it’s fun as well as informative:

So there you are – people are motivated to do what they enjoy, what they know will make a difference.  Performance pay is not the way to go.


What would work better is respect for and trust in the teachers, listening to them, discussing with them how schools can improve, using their expertise to make things better than they are.



In other words

– no carrot,

– no stick,

– but instead, more of a bring-a-plate pot luck dinner, where we all share our best dishes.

Like we tell our students – teamwork and co-operation are great things.



The performance pay paradox

The performance pay paradox

More wise words from Diane Ravitch.

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