Paying Teachers $125K; An Experiment in Merit Pay

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Leslie Brody at the Wall St. Journal reports on a small New York City charter school, The Equity Project, that pays its teachers $125,000, an experiment in compensation that provoked lots of derision when the school opened five years ago. Mathematica Policy Research just issued a report on student achievement there. From the article:

After four years at the charter school, eighth-graders showed average test score gains in math equal to an additional year and a half of school, compared with district students. The study found these charter students’ gains equaled more than an extra half-year in science and almost an extra half-year in English.

Worth noting, in the wake of one of the primary anti-charter talking points:

Critics of charter schools say, among other complaints, that they drain money from regular public schools, skim talented students and nudge out disruptive ones. The study found The Equity Project’s students had similar academic backgrounds to children in nearby district schools, had about the same attrition rate and none was expelled. In 2012-13, about 21% at the charter were English language learners and 21% had special needs, city data show.

The teachers earn those high salaries, working long days (7:30-5:00) and have four weeks a year of professional development. Teacher attrition is high, even if student attrition isn’t.  But, apparently, paying teachers like professionals and tying compensation to performance  is good for kids.

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1 Comment

  • kallikak, October 24, 2014 @ 10:34 pm Reply

    Paying everybody $125K is not 'merit pay', but simply a somewhat inflated wage over that (~$110K) paid to long-serving teachers in North Jersey.

    If the story says that attrition among the former group is high, then inflated wages to not appear effective in retaining supposedly competent teachers.

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