Although Minnesota's Q Comp was sold as one of the nation's pioneering efforts in performance pay, the bonuses are proving to be an easy score for teachers. Designed to give effective teachers bonuses of roughly $2,000 for improving student performance, recent results from an investigation by the Minneapolis Star Tribune show that 99 percent of nearly 4,200 Viking State teachers received the bonuses.
Q Comp regulations require at least 60 percent of any compensation increase to be based on a teacher's performance, but the regs also let the districts and unions negotiate the breakdown of how teacher performance is measured. According to the Star Tribune, "The merit pay raises that teachers receive--the scale on which virtually all the state's teachers succeed--are mostly based on things such as whether teachers successfully complete evaluations and training, rather than on student performance."
A bust of an experiment is what we'd call it.
Meanwhile in Connecticut bonuses are in jeopardy for teachers whose students score well on Advanced Placement exams. The modest bonuses are funded through a private initiative to get more minority and low income students to take advanced math and science coursework. The local teachers' union in the Stamford school district is challenging the bonuses in the state Superior Court for a say in how they are doled out. Meanwhile, according to Stamford Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr, "teachers are very supportive" of the program. A similar initiative failed in the state of Washington last year.