Chicago’s teacher performance-based pay didn’t work

A study released Tuesday by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. about a Chicago program that contains performance-based compensation for teachers, shows no evidence that the program boosted student achievement on math and reading tests, compared with a group of similar schools that did not use the performance-based compensation system, Education Week reported.

The study also found that the Chicago Teacher Advancement Program (TAP), a local version of the national TAP program, did not improve the rates of teacher retention in participating schools or in the district.The Chicago Program is a Teacher Incentive Fund grantee.

The Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF), a $600 million federal grant program supports the creation of pay-for-performance systems. Created by Congress in 2006, TIF was expanded and supported with ARRA funding in 2009. TIF’s stated goals include reforming teacher and principal compensation to support rewards based on improved student performance; and increasing the number of effective teachers teaching poor, minority, and disadvantaged students; and creating sustainables.

According to Mathematica’s site, the five-year, $7.9 million study for the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences involves a rigorous national evaluation of TIF. The study was mandated by the legislation authorizing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Their study is evaluating these performance-based compensation systems to measure issues like student achievement and teacher mobility. Download the report.

OEA is opposed to any form of merit pay or pay for performance as:

Pay that is conditioned or tied to student outcomes (such as test scores) or employee evaluations subject to the employer’s discretion. (This is in alignment with OEA Resolution F-25 merit pay.)

OEA takes this position because research has consistently shown that there is no correlation between merit pay and improved student performance.

However, OEA understands that some local OEA affiliates may be interested in exploring a system of alternative compensation. OEA understands that this is a critical move that could, if entered into lightly, greatly impact OEA members.

OEA defines Alternative Compensation as:

A pay system that supplements a single salary schedule and is accessible to everyone on a voluntary basis. Examples include, but are not limited to, National Board certification, master teacher designation, hard to staff schools, hard to staff subjects, recruitment pay, retention pay, career ladder, and/or licensure status.

An acceptable system of alternative compensation will follow all of the principles listed below.

Alternative compensation MUST:

  1. Be negotiated with the full participation of the local OEA affiliates and be in accordance with Ohio’s collective bargaining laws.
  2. Include a strategic process for implementation that includes professional development and continuous improvement strategies.
  3. Be understandable to all stakeholders, including the public.
  4. Promote collaboration and not competition.
  5. Be accessible to all members of the bargaining unit.
  6. Be voluntary.
  7. Be adequately funded and sustainable.
  8. Provide sufficient resources and time, on-going professional development, and opportunities for collaboration.
  9. Support best practices that improve instruction at both the individual and the collective levels.
  10. Allow current salary schedules to continue to grow.

Alternative compensation MUST NOT:

  1. Be tied to student outcomes, such as test scores.
  2. Reduce or compromise current salary schedules.
  3. Be limited by quotas.
  4. Be tied to subjective evaluations.

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