Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Issue of Merit Pay

One of my daily stops, the Freakonomics blog, posted an intriguing article about the idea of teachers and merit pay.

From the article:
There’s just one problem: educators almost universally hate merit pay, and have been adamantly opposed to it from day one. Simply, teachers say merit pay won’t work. In the last year, there’s been some pretty damning evidence proving them right; research showing that merit pay, in a variety of shapes and sizes, fails to raise student performance. In the worst of cases, such as the scandal in Atlanta, it’s contributed to flat-out cheating on the part of teachers and administrators. So, are we surprised that educators don’t respond to monetary incentives? Is that even the right conclusion to draw?

The article is followed by insight from a variety of different specialists, demystifying the issue for the rest of us who have not yet become polarized. Definitely a good read, especially when more national teaching reform looms right around the corner.

I've personally never been a huge supporter or opponent of the idea. Charles Wheelan, an Illinois economist and politician, gives an excellent argument for merit pay in his book Naked Economics (and, surprisingly, he is quite liberal politically). Despite the gaps in his plan, I highly suggest reading it.

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