Performance pay schemes aim to create a direct link between teacher pay and the performance of their class in order to incentivise better teaching and so improve pupil outcomes.
A distinction can be drawn between awards, where improved performance leads to a higher permanent salary, and payment by results, where teachers get a bonus for higher test scores.
Approaches also differ in how performance is measured and how closely those measures are linked to outcomes for learners. In some schemes, students’ test outcomes are the sole factor used to determine performance pay awards. In others, performance judgements can also include information from lesson observations or feedback from pupils, or be left to the discretion of the headteacher. Some performance schemes incentivise individuals, others incentivise groups of teachers.
The evidence is limited. Although there has been extensive research into performance pay, much of this is either from correlational studies that link national pay levels with general national attainment or from naturally occurring experiments. More recent randomized trials have had mixed results. Overall, it is hard to make definitive causal claims about the impact of performance pay on the attainment, on the basis of the existing evidence.
Before you implement this strategy in your learning environment, consider the following:
Have you considered other, more cost effective, ways to improve teacher performance, such as high quality continuing professional development?
Given the lack of evidence that performance pay significantly improves the quality of teaching, resources may be better targeted at identifying and recruiting high quality teachers.
How will you make sure that performance pay does not leead to a narrower focus on the measures used to asses teacher performance, or to teachers focusing on the performance of particular groups of pupils?