Merit Pay: A Wise Idea?

PROS• Merit pay raises the professionalism bar because teachers are evaluated based on the effectiveness of other teachers.

• It gives principals the authority to make smart hiring and firing decisions.

•Merit pay has arguably seen success in North Carolina, Chattanooga, Dallas and Denver schools.

• Raising the pay levels of the best teachers is key to meeting the challenges, legal and otherwise, of improving schools.

• Rewarding quality teaching will attract the best and the brightest to the profession.


• Research regularly shows that merit pay doesn't improve teachers' classroom work, and can divide, and add negativity and distrust, to a school's teaching community.

• Merit pay isn't fair: How can you reward one teacher for advances made by a student who has had many teachers? How can you know exactly how each teacher contributed to the student's success?

• Merit pay will contribute to more competition and less teamwork among teachers.

• Teachers don't tend to be money-driven, although they enjoy larger paychecks. A 2000 Public Agenda survey of 900 new teachers found that other considerations are "significantly more important" to most educators.

• There are ways to achieve the same goals, such as "[r]ewarding teachers based on added responsibilities, team leadership, mentorship, and the like, is a form of compensation that recognizes teacher effort without the deleterious effects of merit pay," Scholastic Administrator states.

This list was partially adapted from Scholastic Administrator (scholastic.com).


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