Performance pay for teachers

What’s the issue?

The Government says it is opting for quality not quantity, better teaching not more teachers, and wants to introduce a pay system linking teacher pay to students’ results.

The facts

Linking National Standards results to the pay of teachers would be unfair, unreliable and bad for kids’ learning. There is no evidence that it works to improve teaching or kids’ outcomes. An OECD report in May 2012 found that there was no relationship between student performance and the use of performance-based pay systems for teachers. The report said that a policy that helps teachers to become innovators and researchers in education and not just servants who deliver curricula is the best approach for raising teacher quality.

Performance pay distorts quality teaching and learning because it incentivises teachers to “teach to the test” and narrow the breadth of their teaching.

Performance pay assumes that student learning can be measured accurately, is influenced by the teacher alone and is independent from other factors such as family and socio-economic factors. None of these assumptions is supported by the evidence.

For example, a recent US study found 1 in 3 teachers were mislabelled as “ineffective” based on one year of their students’ reading achievement data.

Read the OECD report about performance pay for teachers.

Read more research about performance pay for teachers and how it impacts on teaching and learning

Watch a video about why student data should not be used to determine teacher pay