Teachers take test scores to the bank as bonuses

Greg Toppo:

cross the USA, a small but growing number of school districts are experimenting with teacher-pay packages that front-load higher salaries and offer bonuses — sometimes tens of thousands of dollars’ worth — if student test scores improve or if teachers work in hard-to-staff schools.
At least eight states are moving away from a traditional pay model, which increases salaries based on seniority and advanced degrees. Many of the pay packages are funded by private foundations. In dozens of districts, test scores already have earned teachers more money. A few examples:

  • In Chicago, teachers at a handful of schools can earn up to $8,000 in annual bonuses for improved scores, while mentor teachers and “lead teachers” can earn an extra $7,000 or $15,000, respectively.
  • In Nashville, middle-school math teachers can earn up to $15,000 based on student performance.

Do such plans work? A research center launched at Vanderbilt University to study performance pay has found mostly promising, if limited, results.