Merit Pay Ain’t Gonna Pay Off

People who claim merit pay will produce better teachers obviously know little about educators.

I often tell people I would gladly accept a raise, but my hours in the day don’t change. I get to school at 6:30 am and usually leave around 5:00 to 5:30 pm. Extra pay does not mean I will increase my work day from 10.5 or 11 hours to 12 or 13 hours. I’m still going home to be with my family sometime in the 5 o’clock hours.

“But that’s just you,” merit pay proponents say. “Others will get better and work longer.”

The research disagrees with y’all.

“This view—that the right incentives (positive or negative) will produce the necessary changes in teaching—may be a very common one, but there is no data to back it up. Indeed, a close look at MCAS results shows there is surprisingly little difference between the quality of teaching in so-called “good” schools (wealthy, suburban schools with high MCAS scores)and “bad” schools (inner-city schools with low scores) when the results are averaged across all teachers in the district and disaggregated by student demographics, specifically race and poverty. Put another way, a low-income white student in a “good” suburban school tests essentially the same as a low-income white student in a “bad” inner-city school.”

This also reveals the fallacy of Central Falls in Rhode Island. Get rid of the teachers–all of whom had satisfactory evaluations–and bring in a new crop…with the same resources…and the same student demographics…and the same communities…but now with the added threat of termination and a more stressful atmosphere.


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