Performance Pay: Missouri

2011 Retaining Effective Teachers Policy


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

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

Analysis of Missouri's policies

Missouri supports performance pay. The state allows local districts to establish the Missouri Career Development and Teacher Excellence Plan, in which teachers are able to advance up the career ladder based on criteria that includes "reference to classroom performance evaluations." The amount of additional pay depends on which level of the career ladder teachers reach, as determined by performance and certain other activities.

In addition, any school that is deemed "academically deficient" (graduation rate below 65 percent) is required to develop an incentive program for teachers, rewarding those who contribute to preventing schools from remaining "deficient."

In 2009, Missouri established the Teacher Choice Compensation Package for the St. Louis School District to permit performance-based salary stipends to reward teachers for objectively demonstrating superior performance. Beginning with the 2010-2011 school year, teachers who opt out of their permanent contract may be eligible to participate based on the following: student scores on a value-added test instrument, evaluations by principals or other administrators, evaluations by parents and evaluations by students. Stipends are offered in increments of $5,000, up to $15,000, but must not exceed 50 percent of a teacher's base salary. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must develop criteria for determining eligibility for stipend increments. Test scores are given more weight than evaluations. The level of scores required must take into account classroom demographics. 


Recommendations for Missouri

Expand performance pay beyond St. Louis.
The state is commended for connecting performance pay to student achievement in its Teacher Choice Compensation Package for the St. Louis City School District and should consider implementing a similar performance program in all districts. 

State response to our analysis

Missouri pointed out that historically the Career Ladder received both state and local funding. Due to the economic decline faced by the state in the past two years, the state portion of the program has been suspended.

How we graded

Performance pay is an important recruitment and retention strategy.

Performance pay provides an opportunity to reward those teachers who consistently achieve positive results from their students. The traditional salary schedule used by districts pays all teachers with the same inputs (i.e., experience and degree status) the same amount regardless of outcomes. Not only is following a mandated schedule inconsistent with most other professions, it may also deter talented individuals from considering a teaching career, as well as high-achieving teachers from staying in the field, because it offers no opportunity for financial reward for success.

States should set guidelines for districts to ensure that plans are fair and sound.

Performance pay plans are not easy to implement well. There are numerous examples of both state and district initiatives that have been undone by poor planning and administration. The methodology that allows for the measurement of teachers' contributions to student achievement is still developing, and evaluation systems based on teacher performance are new in many states. Performance pay programs must recognize these limitations. There are also inherent issues of fairness that should be considered when different types of data must be used to assess the performance of different kinds of teachers.

States can play an important role in supporting performance pay by setting guidelines (whether for a state-level program or for districts' own initiatives) that recognize the challenges in implementing a program well. Because this is an area in which there is still much to learn about best practice, states should consider piloting local initiatives as a way to expand the use of and knowledge base around 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: