5 myths about performance pay

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We wanted to get in on the fun of the Washington Post's Five Myths feature, which debunks common misperceptions surrounding issues in the media. Today, NCTQ's exploring myths about performance pay:

Myth 1. Performance pay is an incentive to get teachers to perform better. It's silly to think that teachers leave their "A" game at home without the added incentive of a cash bonus. But it's also true that good teachers currently don't receive the recognition they deserve. Performance pay sends strong signals that the profession honors and rewards results.

Myth 2. Performance pay makes teaching a less attractive profession. Just the opposite is true. By changing the pay structure to include performance incentives, public schools will attract and retain higher caliber candidates (read: top-tier college students) who desire to work in a field where success is recognized and rewarded.

Myth 3. Performance pay is too expensive. What if money currently spent on automatic pay bumps for master's degrees went toward supporting performance pay initiatives? Current pay differentials for master's degrees constitute up to 20 percent of districts' payroll expenditures, but research shows that these degrees have little impact on student performance. Los Angeles, for example, would benefit by moving the $520 million currently spent on master's degrees to a performance pay system.

Myth 4. Performance pay is a district ploy to push out the most experienced teachers. If districts were truly trying to push out the most experienced teachers, it's much more likely to happen under the current compensation system, where teachers with the most experience earn the most—and cost districts the most.

Myth 5. Performance pay is unfair. We'd argue the opposite: the current compensation system is unfair to talented teachers—the teachers who can produce more than a year's worth of growth—and the very teachers the profession needs most.