The Truth About Merit Pay That Reformers Don’t Want You To Know


Merit pay seems to be all the rage among education reformers in several states. The theory is:

  1. Other industries pay their best employees more, so it must work.
  2. Students will perform better if their teachers are more motivated, and teachers are motivated by more money.

While I can think of a lot of reasons why No. 2 is completely false, I'd like to share the following article by Peter Greene that completely debunks No. 1:


Every profession accepts merit pay. All people in the Real Working World accept having their income tied to their job performance. Why should teachers be any different? That's the standard line. Only it isn't true. Here's a quick report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I'd also like to point out that a friend of mine is married to a man who works on straight commission in construction sales. That means that he doesn't make any money if he doesn't sale anything. When contractors are building, he makes a commission on millions of dollars in sales. 

Related topics: Education Policy

About the author 

Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed.

I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma student working on my doctorate in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with an concentration in English Education and co-Editor of the Oklahoma English Journal. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify students' voices and choices.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}