Jul 30, 2012

ARTICLE: Merit Pay Study

New Study Shows Merit Pay System for Teachers Works
LINK: Education News

"A study out of Harvard, conducted by the economist Raj Chetty, found that those placed in kindergarten classes run by more experienced and better teachers not only were more likely to perform well in later grades, but also were more likely to graduate high school, enroll in college, earn more and save more for retirement. A good teacher, defined by Eric Hanushek of Stanford as landing in the 84th percentile in quality, could add between $22,000 and $46,000 to a student’s lifetime earnings."

Because of this, some reformers support merit pay systems, which link pay raises and promotion with evaluations. Some folks from Harvard, University of Chicago, and UC San Diego have offered the results of their study.

"The authors split teachers in the study into a control group, who were not offered any rewards, a 'gain' group, which was promised rewards of up to $8,000 at the end of the school year, and a 'loss' group, which was given $4,000 upfront and asked to pay back any rewards they did not earn. The idea behind the latter group was that loss aversion should motivate teachers to perform better than they would if they only stood to gain more money. Additionally, the gain and loss groups were split, with a 'team' group being rewarded on the basis of theirs and fellow teachers’ test scores, and the “individual” group being reward only on the basis of their own scores. The conclusion: it worked, and it worked almost twice as well when the money was given at the start and then taken away."

Of course it worked twice as well. If you gave me $4000 up front, I'd spend it immediately on glue sticks, pencils, and video games--I'd not have it to give back. Seriously, a $4000 "pay raise" would immediately improve motivation and satisfaction. Next time, they could try $20,000 and watch the teachers work some real magic.

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