Why Paying Teachers Based on Performance Doesn’t Work

May 24, 2017

Performance-based pay is a growing controversial topic. With performance-based pay, teachers are evaluated based on how well their students perform. The teachers with the top results receive bonuses in pay. This is supposed to increase teacher and student performance. However, merit pay can be very problematic because teachers already work hard and good teachers could be driven away.


One reason that performance-based pay should not be used is that teachers work hard as it is, without having extra pressure. Teachers strive to collaborate, “often integrating two different subjects for multidisciplinary learning” (Lara 2). Teachers work hard to teach outside of the curriculum, teaching their students important life lessons. An example of a teacher who does so is Mr. Mbanusi, who “teaches his students about politically relevant issues including health, education, and economic disparities among socioeconomic groups in his Social Justice class” (Lara 2). These teachers love their jobs, and adding in performance based pay could mean a loss of genuine teachers who care about their students; teachers would be working for the money rather than for the students. Teachers go above and beyond with their jobs because of their love for teaching, but adding in extra incentives would take the sincerity away.

The problems only get worse with performance-based pay, as it can even drive the good teachers away. Rather than work in competitive workspaces, teachers prefer to “work in supportive environments… and where colleagues collaborate” (“Tying Teacher Salaries” 1). With pay based on performance, teachers would be required to compete with each other to be the ideal teacher. Helping a friend out might mean making one’s own salary suffer. Strong teachers would become upset at this and leave, while teachers would become weaker because they are fighting for money rather than working together to improve the learning experience for students.
Merit pay can induce strong teachers to stray away from the job, while weaker teachers will become more prevalent.

Finally, merit pay is a potentially harmful solution to ineffective teaching. Teachers getting payed based on performance can lead to strong teachers being driven away from the job.  Also, teachers can be under more pressure and be forced to compete with each other. There are other solutions to this problem such as reducing class size, which would be much less likely to cause negative effects. In conclusion, performance-based pay can create a highly negative environment and should be avoided to prevent competition and keep strong teachers.

Works Cited

1. Admin, ERN. "Pros and cons of merit pay for teachers: A point-counterpoint look at the issue from one of the leading practitioners of performance-based compensation." Educational Research Newsletter and Webinars. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2017.
2. Lara, Cristina. "Why Teacher Performance Pay Won't Work." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost, 08 Nov. 2012. Web. 16 May 2017.
3. "Tying Teacher Salaries to Test Scores Doesn't Work." Parents Across America. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2017.

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