Teacher merit pay. It’s one of those perennially popular policy ideas that, historically, hasn’t worked very well. A few years ago, New York City offered teachers in select schools $3,000 if the entire school’s test scores went up.
Interesting article, but it is about a lot more than merit pay. Research over many years points to the reality that pay ranks below several other factors that motivate teachers: relationships with administrators, the quality of the teaching and learning environment, opportunities for professional development--to name a few. ---Lou
"The good news is that the Talent Transfer Initiative shows a significant pay raise can move good veteran teachers to struggling schools and keep them there. The bad news is that less than a quarter of the 1,500 effective teachers asked to participate in this experiment chose to apply.
Why? There is a lot of research on teacher preferences, and what we know is that pay ranks pretty far down the list. A McKinsey study found that a respected principal was a more attractive draw for teachers than larger salaries. Yet the persistently failing schools targeted by this experiment and others often have constant administrative churn; at one South L.A. high school I’ve reported on, Crenshaw, there were five principals and 24 assistant principals in seven years. When veteran teachers consider where to work, they are aware of the reality of low-income schools with chaotic work environments.
That suggests teacher bonuses paired with efforts to keep respected, committed principals in low-income schools could truly improve instruction. In recent years, our school reform debate has focused almost obsessively on the individual teacher within the classroom. In reality, a school’s working climate—the complex interplay between a principal and teams of teachers—matters just as much."