AASA Survey

Apply Pay Incentives to All Groups by NOELLE ELLERSON

One proposed measure in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that has received a lot of attention is the idea of restructuring teacher pay to include performance measures.

In response to the growing dialogue at the local, state and national levels around performance-based pay, AASA surveyed its members to gauge their interest in pay-for-performance programs.

The leading findings, drawn from 536 respondents in 45 states, were these:

•  Interest in implementing some type of pay-for-performance model is varied. Roughly 45 percent of respondents expressed moderate to strong interest in exploring pay-for-performance programs, whether at the individual, group or system level. More than 20 percent had no interest in considering new pay arrangements.

When asked which educators should receive performance-based pay, an overwhelming majority (82 percent) said all three groups — teachers, principals and administrators — should be included in pay-for-perform-ance plans.

•  Various motivating factors, indicators and anticipated obstacles influence the consideration of pay for performance. The No. 1 motivation to implement pay for performance is improving student achievement, followed by improving teacher effectiveness.

Respondents identified various factors at the system and individual levels that would need to be considered in a pay-for-perform-ance model. Student achievement and teacher evaluations were the top two issues.

The top three anticipated obstacles were, in order, teacher union resistance; the capacity to link teacher evaluation and/or student achievement to evaluations; and the accuracy of performance measures.

What does this mean for school system administrators?

Given the increased emphasis on change and innovation in America’s public schools, the idea of pay for performance is not going away. School administrators know that successful implementation of performance-based compensation will require an ongoing dialogue involving all members of the education community. The dialogue must answer tough questions, covering everything from who is involved and what the model will look like to how the model will be evaluated and sustained.

The prevalence and structure of pay for performance in America’s public schools is not — and should not be — identical to that of the private sector. Public schools need to know about private-sector pay-for-perform-ance plans not so they can be carbon-copied, but so school leaders can consider whether aspects of the plans can be applied successfully to public schools.

The full survey can be found here.

Noelle Ellerson is a policy analyst at AASA. E-mail: