Performance Pay: District of Columbia

Retaining Effective Teachers Policy


The state should support performance pay but in a manner that recognizes its appropriate uses and limitations.

Does not meet goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Performance Pay: District of Columbia results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of District of Columbia's policies

The District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) supports performance pay.

DCPS' IMPACTplus is a performance-based compensation plan with two methods for rewarding highly effective teachers. Teachers are eligible for an annual bonus based on the school's free and reduced-price lunch rate, student growth based on data assessment and teaching in a "high-needs" subject. In addition, teachers with highly effective ratings are eligible for an increase in salary base. The school's free and reduced-price lunch is taken into account when determining service credit.

However, this applies only to DCPS and is not state-level policy.


Recommendations for District of Columbia

Support a performance pay plan that recognizes teachers for their effectiveness.
Whether it implements the plan at the state or local level, the District of Columbia should ensure that performance pay structures thoughtfully measure classroom performance and connect student achievement to teacher effectiveness. The plan must be developed with careful consideration of available data and subsequent issues of fairness.

State response to our analysis

The District of Columbia recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The District of Columbia noted that Race to the Top local educational agencies are required to have evaluation results inform compensation in some way, although they are not required to have performance pay.

Research rationale

Research on merit pay in 28 industrialized countries from Harvard's Program on Education Policy and Governance found that students in countries with merit pay policies in place were performing at a level approximately one year's worth of schooling higher on international math and science tests than students in countries without such policies (2011). 

Erik Hanushek found that a teacher one standard deviation above the mean effectiveness annually generates $400,000 in student future earnings for a class size of 20. See Hanushek, Erik A. "The Economic Value of Higher Teacher Quality," National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper 16606 (December 2010).

In addition, numerous conference papers published by the National Center on Performance Incentives reinforce the need to recognize the limitations and appropriate uses of performance pay. See: