NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Paying Teachers For Student Achievement

February 29, 2000

Traditionally, teachers' earnings have been tied to their length of service and how many degrees they have earned. But in just the last few months the concept of linking pay to students' academic performance has been catching on in some states.

  • The governors of Wisconsin and Iowa are encouraging their legislatures to adopt "pay-for-performance" pilot projects.
  • Similar programs are being discussed in New Mexico, South Dakota and Oklahoma.
  • Florida has already given school districts until 2002 to base part of teacher pay on performance or risk losing state aid.

Under Wisconsin Republican Gov. Tommy G. Thompson's proposal -- called "Award for Achievement" -- a school would volunteer to participate and all of its employees, not just teachers, would benefit financially in each year improvement is evidenced in test scores, attendance and dropout rates.

The bonus for Wisconsin teachers -- who make an average of $40,775 -- would be as much as $3,000 a year. School employees would not be penalized financially if academic performance declined or stayed flat

Denver teachers approved a somewhat similar experiment last year -- with bonuses of $1,500.

Source: Kenneth J. Cooper, "Performance Pay for Teachers Catches On," Washington Post, February 26, 2000.


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