The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB, 2011) has made increasing student achievement and reducing inconsistencies in the dissemination of teacher qualifications a national priority (Guarino, Brown, & Wyse, 2011). Classic fixed salary schedules that consider only a teacher’s education and years of experience have been popular since the 1920’s (Koppich, 2005). This traditional system was developed to counter gender and racial discrimination that was allowed at the time by more unrestricted systems (Dee & Keys, 2004). Claims were made that the prevailing system created salary equity between elementary teachers, most of whom were women, and secondary teachers, most of whom were men (Koppich, 2005). Even though this compensation structure has failed to acknowledge that some teaching jobs are harder than others and require more skills, the straightforward standard salary schedule has prevailed in thousands of schools and districts across the country (Koppich, 2005). There was a burst of merit pay activity in the early 1980s. Twenty-nine states had initiated some sort of merit pay program for teachers by 1986. Since then, however, almost all of them have been diluted or discontinued (Dee & Keys, 2004). While the idea of merit pay for classroom teachers has been around for several decades, lately a resurgence of interest has surfaced in a growing number of districts around the country. This may be attributed to a perceived correlation between student achievement and teacher merit pay, and the recent increased funding level for the federal Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF). The TIF program, which is run through the United States Department of Education (USDOE), provides funding on a competitive basis to states and school districts to help them implement merit pay systems. According to President Obama, “Good teachers will be rewarded with more money for improved student achievement” (Smarick, 2011)
The purpose of this hypothetical study is to ascertain the potency of paying teachers for performance in order to promote the achievement of upper elementary students.
Districts, challenged by a widening achievement gap, may need to reform their long established teacher salary schedules in the interest of attracting, motivating, and retaining high-quality teachers. It is time to develop and implement a professional compensation arrangement that recognizes the complex nature of the work and awards teachers for attaining knowledge and skills that contribute to improving student learning and produce higher test scores (Koppich, 2005). Although a prescription on how systems should be designed has not been determined, further experiments and pilot programs by districts and states are in order. As these are introduced, however, it is important to place an emphasis on how merit is measured, and bring them out in a way that produces and sustains effective evaluation...