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Could This Put The Final Nail In Merit Pay’s Coffin? (We Can Only Hope)


The New York City Department of Education today abandoned a three year teacher performance bonus program that cost $56 million. The New York Times reports:

The decision was made in light of a study that found the bonuses had no positive effect on either student performance or teachers’ attitudes toward their jobs.

The study’s authors said:

Teachers also reported that improving as teachers and seeing their students learn were bigger motivators than a bonus…

Here’s one more excerpt from the article:

The results add to a growing body of evidence nationally that so-called pay-for-performance bonuses for teachers that consist only of financial incentives have no effect on student achievement, the researchers wrote.

Bob Sutton has written a post about the study, titled New York City Halts Teacher Bonus Program: Another Blow to Evidence-Resistant Ideology that is a must-read, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has published a column on it, too.

I’m add these resources to The Best Resources For Learning Why Teacher Merit Pay Is A Bad Idea.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. “Teachers also reported that improving as teachers and seeing their students learn were bigger motivators than a bonus…”

    Oh come on. Why even receive a paycheck? The joy of seeing kids succeed is payment enough. It’s a job Larry.

    • Gustavo,

      Teachers need to feel like they are fairly compensated. I would say the most teachers, though obviously not all, would honestly say that professional improvement, seeing students learn, and feeling a sense of autonomy are genuine motivators. In fact, research from people like Dan Ariely and Daniel Pink would say the same thing about most people — that, once people feel that they are fairly compensated, those are issues are more effective motivators.


  2. Larry,
    I probably came off harsh with my comment so I apologize. That was my initial reaction though. I just don’t think there’s anything wrong with making money.

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