Performance Pay: Massachusetts

Retaining Effective Teachers Policy


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

Meets goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Performance Pay: Massachusetts results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Massachusetts's policies

Massachusetts does not currently support performance pay statewide. However, the state received a Teacher Incentive Fund grant in 2010 to implement a pilot program to "attract, support, evaluate, reward and retain effective teachers in 22 low-performing 'turnaround schools' in Boston and Springfield." Performance-pay compensation is based on teacher evaluations under a new evaluation system that uses three rating categories, with student growth being a significant factor.


Recommendations for Massachusetts

State response to our analysis

Massachusetts was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis. The state added that there is nothing in state law or regulations precluding districts from negotiating performance base pay scales. New evaluation regulations require that educators whose summative performance rating is exemplary and whose impact on student learning is rated moderate or high shall be recognized and rewarded.

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: