ASCD’s take on incentive pay

A new InfoBrief from ASCD (the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) explains the Association’s position on teacher incentive pay:

Local school districts should have this option to attract the best and brightest educators. We believe schools should have the support and resources to pay incentives or bonuses to educators who increase student achievement or teach in high-poverty, high-need districts.

However, ASCD supports the concept as a locally determined decision that involves all stakeholders in the development and implementation of the incentive program. Most important, ASCD believes that the overarching goal for any incentive program must be a focus on the education of the whole child.

The InfoBrief, Rewarding Educators, cites recent research attempting to link incentive pay programs with gains in student achievement and draws the distinction between performance-pay approaches that rely mostly on standardized test scores and those that take a more comprehensive approach to determining student and teacher success. It also considers the design of several large merit and incentive pay programs and notes that while “the programs vary considerably in structure and application, most of their compensation plans provide incentives based on one or more of the following: pay for performance, pay for the attainment of knowledge and skills, and pay for filling positions in hard-to-staff schools.”

ASCD’s paper is quite clear about the need to involve teachers in program design and to “determine rewards on the basis of student growth evaluated throughout the year instead of scores from a single test.” However, while the Association calls for placing “the best educators in the highest-need districts,” there’s little consideration of how that should happen, how teachers should be recruited and prepared for such work, or even what it means to be “the best” in the context of teaching in a high-needs school. For more reflection on that subject, from accomplished teachers themselves, see the 2007 reportfrom the TLN TeacherSolutions team, Performance-Pay for Teachers: Designing a System that Students Deserve (see esp. pp. 31-32).

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