Research on Performance Pay for Teachers

Lawrence Ingvarson, ACER
Elizabeth Kleinhenz, ACER
Jenny Wilkinson, ACER

ISBN 978-0-86431-742-1


This report falls into three main sections, in accordance with the project brief (See Appendix 1). The first provides an overview of current pay arrangements and collective enterprise bargaining agreements for teachers in Australian schools. Within these arrangements, the report gives particular attention to provisions for performance-based pay schemes and to identifying potential impediments to the introduction of performance-based pay for teachers. The second part of the brief called for an overview of recent Australian and international research on the attitudes of stakeholders to performance-based pay schemes for teachers and the impact of these schemes on, for example, teacher retention, improved teaching standards, improved student outcomes and recognition of accomplished teachers. The third part of the brief asked for gaps in the Australian and international evidence base on performance pay to be identified and for suggestions about further research that would be valuable in assessing the value and/or acceptance of performance-based pay for teachers in the Australian context. This report focuses on published research about performance pay. There have been many examples of performance-related pay schemes over the past one hundred years or so, especially in the USA. More recently, many more are being encouraged by President Bush’s US$500 million Teacher Incentive Fund for states and school districts that choose to introduce merit pay schemes. The Teacher Incentive Fund will provide a $5,000 award to approximately 100,000 teachers across the country. Many more schemes have appeared in recent years in other countries as well, such as England, Sweden and Singapore. While many of these schemes have received considerable publicity, such as the Special Teachers are Rewarded (STAR) scheme initiated by the Florida Department of Education, this report will only give detailed attention to schemes that have been subject to systematic research. This report does not review in detail the advantages and disadvantages of particular methods of gathering evidence about teacher performance, such as student evaluations, classroom observations or measures of student achievement and many more.