Teacher Attitudes on Pay for Performance: A Pilot Study

October 2007
Brian Jacob, Matthew Springer

Researchers at the National Center on Performance Incentives recently examined teacher attitudes towards pay for performance policies in education, and how these views vary by teacher experience, subject area specialization, grade level taught, educational background, personality characteristics, risk and time preferences, and feelings of efficacy. The research project, "Teacher Attitudes on Pay for Performance: A Pilot Study," took place in Florida's School District of Hillsborough County (SDHC) and was conducted using a voluntary electronic survey instrument designed to elicit teacher attitudes on pay for performance (PFP). Teachers in this study expressed moderate support for PFP. The highest level of support was voiced for incentive pay for individual teacher performance, as opposed to school or group performance, though only 50% of teachers agreed that incentive pay based on individual performance would be a positive change in teacher compensation policy. The study found 56% of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that incentive pay would threaten the collaborative culture of teaching, and only a modest percentage of teachers believed PFP would cause teachers to work harder (34%) or together more often (24%). The authors also examined the impact of various teacher and school characteristics on perceptions of PFP. The authors found associations between several teacher demographics and views on incentive pay. Furthermore, the authors offer several policy recommendations for Florida based not only on their findings, but research from other studies and locales. This research brief describes work performed by the National Center on Performance Incentives and documented in "Teacher Attitudes on Pay for Performance: A Pilot Study," by Brian Jacob and Matthew G. Springer, Working Paper 2007-06.

This working paper was supported by the Florida Education Association and the National Center on Performance Incentives, which is funded by the United States Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (R30SA06034). The authors wish to express their appreciation to Yvonne Lyons and Marshall Ogletree for their assistance in developing this work; Cate Gardner and Stephanie Rennane for excellent research assistance; Laura Hamilton, Vi-Lhuan Le, and Brian Stecher for their help in the design of the survey instrument; the Corporation for Public School Education K-16 for managing the online survey instrument. The views expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect those of sponsoring agencies or individuals acknowledged. Any errors remain the sole responsibility of the authors.