The focus of my paper is on how incentives like merit pay can lead to risky behaviors and bad outcomes in our educational system. It is my belief that incentives like higher pay alone is never sufficient enough to motivate teachers or anyone with a real passion for their vocation to perform better. I find myself in the court of public opinion that incentives like money are a short time motivator for most people. I have looked at research material and information from experiments and initiatives to implement incentives like merit pay or pay for performance into educational systems over almost three centuries and I believe it supports my point of view on this subject.
With that said I believe I’ve provided my prospective on the information I gathered from my research pertaining to the moral and social/risky behaviors associated with the/or that contributed to the demise of educational system merit pay or pay for performance programs. To support my perspective I identified a few specific highly publicized and very well documented incidents deemed as failures or bad outcomes associated with educational system merit pay or pay for performance programs.
MERIT PAY IN EDUCATION
WHAT IS MERIT PAY My first step in this process is to define what is Merit pay? Merit pay is a term that describes performance-related pay that provides bonuses for workers who perform their jobs effectively, according to easily measurable criteria. For the purposes of this paper, I will be focusing on merit pay or pay for performance with regards to education? The most common definition I found for Merit pay or pay for performance in an educational system was that compensation is partly based on an evaluation of a combination of factors. Most are measurable factors like changes in student test scores and some are subjective like teacher peer reviews. Other measurable factors are additional money awarded for achieving determined results, scores, or goals. Non-monetary incentives like awards can improve results, make teachers/administrators feel app
HISTORY OF MERIT PAY/PAY FOR PERFORMANCE
During my research on this subject, I found out that the idea of merit pay or pay for performance is not new at all and that it has a very long history. It was born almost three centuries ago in England around 1710. Teachers’ salaries were based on their students’ test scores on examinations in reading, writing, and arithmetic. Merit pay was first tried in the United States in 1908 in Newton, Massachusetts. In the 1960s, President Richard Nixon introduced “performance contracting” which was a system of incentives for private firms to improve student achievement. This led to students being offered transistor radios in return for higher test scores in Arkansas in 1969, and the incentive plans abandoned by scores of school districts around the country in the 1970’s. It was revisited again in 1986 when some districts started to experiment with pay for performance programs.
Including an in Fairfax, Virginia had a nationally recognized plan that it implemented, but the school district abandoned it by in 1992. Pay for performance programs grew in national popularity in the 2000s when federal support established funds creating incentives for compensation systems that included the use of test scores. Major cities like Chicago, Denver, New York, Minneapolis, San Antonio and Toledo adopted pay for performance systems. My research has found since 2007, at least 28 states have replaced the traditional pay system with systems that based teacher pay in part on performance based on evaluations and student achievement.
HOW DOES IT WORK IN EDUCATION Simply put merit pay or teacher pay for performance is a system in which compensation is based on some aspects of teacher performance. As well as a combination of factors, some measurable like changes in student test scores, some subjective like supervisory judgment or observations by administrators, peers, students, and parents.
TYPES OF PLANS
I’ve found that there a few merit pay plans that are designed to reward the outstanding individual for their teachers work. Others merit pay plans are based on student progress. While some depends on the cooperative work of a teaching teams to get their bonuses or pay increases. Another was the Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) created by the Milken Family Foundation in 1999. TAP is currently in place in more than 180 schools all across the United States.
Another program called the Teacher Incentive Plan (TIF) supports efforts to develop and implement a performance-based teacher and principal compensation systems in which teachers are given nine clearly established factors to help increase their earnings. Such as working in a high-needs schools, exceeding expectations on state exams, meeting professional objectives set at the beginning of the year, receiving a worthy evaluation from a principal, and gaining “distinguished school” status by meeting mixed criteria such as parent satisfaction.
I have surmised from all the material I’ve read and reviewed on this subject, the risky behaviors associated with Merit pay are rooted lie in their social and moral behavioral phycology. It is my belief that people react to incentives like higher pay very differently. I find myself in the court of public opinion that teachers are good people with a real passion for their vocation. That normal power and money, money and power mean nothing to them when it comes to performing better. In situations like Merit Pay systems, they have been known to encourage behaviors like dishonesty and corruption.
To achieve the benefits of Merit pay or pay for performance programs, educators are financially motivated to lie about testing results and have legitimate suspicions of principal favoritism. History has shown us that the teachers who were caught cheating blamed the administration for the inordinate pressure to meet unrealistic goals and expectations set by the district. Some said they faced severe consequences such as a negative evaluation or termination if they didn’t cheat. To protect their jobs, win favor and bonuses, administrators have been known to create a culture of fear, intimidation among employees and conspiracy of silence in their school system that kept many teachers from speaking freely about misconduct.
As far as I can tell, when rooting through all the material on merit and pay for performance systems, when it comes to the story of merit pay in education the results have been mostly a collection of wishful thinking and hopes that have never produced any real positive outcomes. Here are a few specific highly publicized and very well documented incidents deemed as failures or bad outcomes associated with educational system merit pay or pay for performance programs. England (1710)
In the earliest recorded educational system merit pay or pay for performance programs that I could find, teachers and administrators became obsessed with financial rewards when their pay was connected to their students’ test scores on examinations in reading, writing, and arithmetic. This resulted in curriculums being narrowed to include only the testable basics. Teaching stopped as teachers found that drill and rote repetition produced the ”best” results. Both teachers and administrators falsified results, and because they did the plan was ultimately dropped.
WASHINGTON DC PUBLIC SCHOOLS
District of Columbia schools officials was found covering up an investigation that revealed cheating at 11 schools during the school year of 2008. An internal memo showed that an analyst found 191 Teachers at 70 schools might have erased their students’ wrong answers and filled in the right ones. DCPBS chancellor Michelle Rhee had just handed out over $1.5 million in bonuses in a well-publicized celebration of the test increases. DCPBS chancellor Michelle Rhee had been praised by presidential candidates Obama and McCain during an October debate. DCPBS chancellor Michelle Rhee was on the cover of Time Magazine. The public spectacle of the investigation of nearly half of her schools tarnished her glowing reputation when the investigators proved that adults cheated.
ATLANTA PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Investigators concluded that cheating had occurred in at least 44 schools and that the district had been troubled by “organized and systemic misconduct.” Nearly 180 employees, including 38 principals, were accused of wrongdoing as part of an effort to inflate test scores and misrepresent the achievement of Atlanta’s students and schools. A grand jury indicted 35 school administrators and teachers for their alleged part in the biggest standardized test cheating ring in our nation’s history. Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr., who spoke at the press conference announcing the indictment, federal funds were used in bonuses awarded to schools and teachers based on the results of Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, and employees who didn’t participate in the ring were fired. A jury convicted 11 of 12 educators for their roles in a standardized test cheating scandal that raised broader questions about the role of high-stakes testing in American schools.
The focus of my paper was on how incentives like merit pay and pay for performance can and have led to risky behaviors and bad outcomes in our educational system. I have looked at research material and information from experiments and initiatives to implement incentives like merit pay or pay for performance into educational systems over almost three centuries and I believe it supports my point of view on this subject. With that said I believe I’ve provided my prospective on the information I gathered from my research pertaining to the moral and social/risky behaviors associated with the/or that contributed to the demise of educational system merit pay or pay for performance programs. To support my perspective I identified a few specific highly publicized and very well documented incidents deemed as failures or bad outcomes associated with educational system merit pay or pay for performance programs.
I’ve found that since merit pay and pay for performance inception when it comes to education the story of has been mostly a collection of wishful thinking and hopes that have never turned up many real positive outcomes. I’ve looked at dozens of plans during this research project, and many have been dogged by fraud it is my contention that not one of them has ever produced its intended results. Any gains have been minimal, short-lived, and expensive to achieve and rarely lead to real gains in student achievement.