Report: Teacher Merit Pay Has Positive Effects

    1:45 PM, Jan 16, 2007   |    comments
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    Study Authors Note These Key Findings:

    1. Students in schools where the ACPP operated in 2005-06 showed an improvement of 3.5 normal curve equivalent points. For the average student, this gain represents an improvement of nearly 7 percentile points.

    2. Teachers in the merit pay program reported:

    • They were no more innovative than comparison teachers.
    • They were no more likely to work harder than comparison teachers.
    • They were more satisfied with their salaries than comparison teachers.
    • No more counterproductive competition than comparison teachers.
    • Their work environment became more positive than comparison

    3. Teachers in the merit pay program were less likely than comparison teachers to agree that low-performing students were a burden in the classroom.

    4. Teachers in the merit pay program were more likely than comparison students to report that the academic performance of their students had improved over the past year.

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  • News Release on study by University of Arkansas: A new evaluation of a teacher pay-for-performance program in Little Rock finds that it produces significant gains in student performance on standardized tests and a more positive work environment for teachers. The Achievement Challenge Pilot Project at Meadowcliff and Wakefield elementary schools offers teachers and staff bonuses that vary based on the magnitude of increases in student achievement. (See link below key findings box for full report.) According to researchers in the UA department of education reform, these bonuses led to significantly greater learning gains than had been achieved by the same students prior to the program and by students at comparison schools. The introduction of merit bonuses produced an additional 3.5 normal curve equivalent points on a nationally normed math test. This gain in achievement after one year's time is roughly equal to one-sixth of the test score gap between white and black students, on average, nationwide. That is, if the observed benefit of the merit pay program were to compound for six years, it would close the black-white test score gap. "As Arkansas policy-makers consider ways to recruit, retain and reward effective public school teachers, they may well consider the responses from the teachers in these Little Rock elementary schools," said Joshua Barnett, lead researcher of the study. "These teachers do reveal dissatisfaction with the status quo and a desire to be rewarded fairly for their work." In the merit pay program, teachers could earn a bonus worth as much as $11,000. In 2005-06, teachers and staff at Meadowcliff were awarded bonuses totaling $200,926, while those at Wakefield received $228,300 in performance bonuses. For the 2006-07 school year, the program was expanded to include three more elementary schools: Geyer Springs, Mabelvale and Romine. The program began at Meadowcliff in 2004-05, and Wakefield was added in 2005-06. A survey of teachers at participating and comparison schools found a more positive work environment at schools where the merit bonuses were available. In addition, teachers at schools participating in the merit pay program were not more likely to report counterproductive competition among faculty. The study was led by Gary Ritter, director of the Office for Education Policy in the department of education reform. Jay P. Greene, who holds the endowed chair in education reform, and graduate students Joshua Barnett and Marcus A. Winters also participated in the evaluation. The research team will continue to examine the program next year with a larger sample size of students and teachers to determine whether these initial benefits persist. The program is funded by the Little Rock School District, the Little Rock Public Education Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, the Hussman Foundation and the Brown Family Foundation. Financial support for the evaluation was provided by the Walton Family Foundation. "The Achievement Challenge Pilot Project merit pay system should be considered as one policy option to improve the status quo and compensate teachers, and then be subject to rigorous evaluation to continually test its effectiveness," Ritter said.

    Source: UA

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