Performance pay for teachers

School board in Tennessee launches program to attract quality teachers to tough schools

A school board in Tennessee has taken a different approach to luring teachers to struggling schools — performance pay.

Teachers in Chattanooga, Tenn. are being offered a $5,000 bonus to switch to tough, inner-city schools that are traditionally weak on academics. The catch? Their students have to get grades 15 per cent higher than a normal year’s progress as measured by state tests.

Chattanooga’s mayor, Bob Corker, developed the plan in conjunction with local CEOs. The additional cash to pay the performance bonus comes out of money generated by a city sales tax. Not only do teachers earn more, but principals can get in line for a $10,000 bonus if their schools get good marks.

Corker said pay-for-performance in education is an idea whose time has come, and that the school board should have the same principles in place to reward good employees and good performance as businesses do.

But the new pay scale didn’t come without opposition. Corker said the local teachers’ union initially balked at the idea, but eventually got onboard.

Dennis Van Roekel, of the National Education Association in Washington, D.C., criticized the Chattanooga program. Van Roekel said performance pay is not the way to go about rewarding teachers, and will do nothing to solve teacher shortages across the United States. The bigger issue is the overall level of compensation, he said.

Latest stories