There's No Evidence that Merit Pay Negatively Affects Teacher Teamwork
Washington Post education columnist Jay Mathews wrote a column earlier this week suggesting that “merit pay could ruin teacher teamwork” in Washington, DC. In response, Jeanne Allen from the Center for Education Reform wrote an open letter saying that merit pay is in fact the key to building a culture of teamwork inside the district schools of our nation’s capital.
But there’s more to throw into the pot of this little debate. Findings from a study of a merit pay pilot program (PDF) in Little Rock, Arkansas, further questions the conventional wisdom in Mathews’ piece:
The data do not indicate that ACPP teachers experience divisive competition, suffer from a negative work environment, or shy away from working with low-performing students – despite the fact that these are three oft-cited potential problems inherent in merit pay plans.
More research is needed, but it looks like there’s reason to believe that the old teachers union saw about merit pay being divisive isn’t necessarily true. More teamwork, higher quality instruction, and ultimately, students learning more: I have a hard time seeing what’s not to like about paying teachers for performance.
Several Colorado school districts and charter schools are leading the way in this area, but there’s plenty of room to grow.