Vanderbilt study to assess performance-based pay for teachers

Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 6:21pm

A highly anticipated study evaluating whether performance-based pay for Metro teachers correlates with increased student achievement is set to be unveiled on Tuesday.

For the past three years, Vanderbilt University researchers have been inside math classrooms at Metro middle schools examining the effects on student outcomes when paying eligible teachers bonuses up to $15,000 per year on the basis of student-gains on TCAP test scores.

Coined POINT — or the Project on Incentives in Teaching — the study was conducted by the National Center on Performance Incentives, a research center that operates out of Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development.

According to the center’s website, the analysis is to address several “impact areas, including student achievement, teacher behavior, organizational dynamics, unintended consequences and cost effectiveness.”

What comes out of that report could be key to whether Metro adopts a performance-based pay structure for teachers in the future.

In August, Director of Schools Jesse Register and Mayor Karl Dean rolled out a new plan called ASSET, which sees to transform the way Metro schools recruit, develop and retain teachers.

The announcement came a year after Register and Dean created a panel to discuss the topic of performance-based pay. But linking teacher salaries with student test scores is not part of the new ASSET program.

Various leaders in the education community have pointed to the findings of Vanderbilt’s report to reserve judgment on whether a performance-based pay structure should be brought to Nashville. 

2 Comments on this post:

By: martindkennedy on 9/16/10 at 8:47

The challenge with such empirical studies in this area is that there is plenty of room for misinterpretation. We know, everyone knows, that people respond to incentives. Even mice learn to hit the lever that gives them a food pellet and avoid the one that results in an electrical shock. However, how the incentives are formulated and packaged... how they are perceived by the people eligible to earn bonuses matters a great deal. If this study shows that performance pay did not have a great impact it shouldn't be interpreted to mean that performance pay does not work. It works, but the challenge is to get it right.

By: govskeptic on 9/17/10 at 6:58

Must agree with everything in the previous posting. I would
suggest possibly several systems in this country have already
implemented(possibly for several yrs.)just what we might be
looking for in our own system. Those type evualations would
mean more to this reader than a new threory or study by Vanderbilt
or anyother institution. We must get it right as we are on the
edge of falling totally off a cliff after getting it wrong so long.