I have often noted that merit pay has been tried again and again for nearly a century. It never works and it never dies.
There is a materialist strain in American culture that is certain that everyone will respond to a cash reward.
Advocates claim that the chance to win extra money will make teachers work harder and produce higher test scores and even make the teaching profession more attractive.
When these expectations fall flat, the believers simply won’t accept the results.
Teachers don’t like merit pay because they don’t want a bonus for doing what they do without a bonus.
Teachers don’t want a reward dangled in front of them for raising test scores because it is inherently insulting, as if they aren’t already doing their best and needed that carrot in front of them to try harder.
Teachers want higher pay, but they don’t want to compete with one another for the annual prize. That destroys teamwork.
This post in the Shanker blog by Eleanor Fulbeck summarizes the state of research.
Advocates of merit pay say that it increases teacher retention, but Fulbeck points out the the record is uncertain at best.
This is worth reading.