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Performance pay primer

Teacher Performance Pay, as part of a total compensation program, is a concept that bears further examination.

Demands for public school system accountability challenge school boards and districts to use their resources effectively and efficiently. Performance pay compensation programs are one technique boards can consider to help evaluate employee performance and program results.

The public demands greater efficiency in the use of existing resources at the same time they are insisting upon higher student outcomes. In other words, they want increased accountability in education. This accountability is focused not only on the educational process but also on the actual performance of students in relationship to the amount and type of funding available.

Examination of performance pay systems is commensurate with the National School Boards Association’s, which calls for establishing a continuous cycle for setting performance standards and benchmarking progress using a data-driven decision-making process to reward success and eliminate failure. Not only must curriculum, instruction and assessment be aligned for higher levels of student achievement, alignment must also take place in evaluation, professional development, and compensation. To achieve these goals, resource allocation, continuous improvement and accountability systems must all be aligned at the district level. Resource alignment, strong accountability systems, and continuous improvement are an integral part of performance-based compensation systems.

Teacher performance pay programs have generally paralleled private-sector variable compensation programs. These plans compensate teachers on the basis of knowledge, competencies and performance. Consequently, performance pay plans are typically based in four areas:

  • Individual performance incentive tied to student achievement.
  • Group or building-based compensation, usually tied to student achievement.
  • Pay for knowledge, which incorporates professional development and the development of specific competencies.
  • Pay for additional responsibilities, which include school organizational issues, site committees and curriculum development.

Historically, individual performance incentive systems have not significantly raised student achievement or increased accountability in public schools. Group-based incentives and pay for specific knowledge and skills programs appear to be the more fruitful approaches at this time. Consequently, School Performance Awards can be an effective way to increase teacher and administrator accountability.

School Performance Award systems can provide monetary awards, additional instructional resources, increased recognition, or other awards to an entire school, based on students and staff achieving pre-selected goals. The most effective programs include a variety of rewards.