Argument: Merit pay motivates teachers to over-focus on test scores

Issue Report: Merit pay for teachers


Vivian Troen and Katherine C. Boles. “How ‘Merit Pay’ Squelches Teaching”. Boston Globe. September 28, 2005: “The idea of merit pay, sometimes called pay for performance, was born in England around 1710. Teachers’ salaries were based on their students’ test scores on examinations in reading, writing, and arithmetic. The result was that teachers and administrators became obsessed with financial rewards and punishments, and curriculums were narrowed to include only the testable basics. … So drawing, science, and music disappeared. Teaching became more mechanical as teachers found that drill and rote repetition produced the ‘best’ results. Both teachers and administrators were tempted to falsify results, and many did. The plan was ultimately dropped, signaling the fate of every merit plan initiative ever since.”

“No merit to merit pay”. United Teachers Los Angeles. November 9, 2007: “Rewarding educators based on student test scores would further exacerbate the “teach to the test” syndrome that has narrowed the curriculum and dulled the educational experience for students and teachers. It could also create conditions that would encourage cheating.”