Performance Pay can Bring Stronger Teachers into the Classroom

Michael Hartney and Michael Jones recently published a study in Public Administration Review that explores the ability of pay-for-performance salary structures to bring stronger teachers into the classroom.

The study, titled “Show WHO the money? Teaching Sorting Practices and Performance Pay across U.S. School Districts” uses data from two waves of the Schools and Staffing Survey to determine if districts with pay for performance (PFP) are able to recruit more teachers from highly selective colleges and universities.

The authors summarize their findings as follows:

Skepticism about PFP in the public sector is often grounded in theories of public service motivation that suggest a misalignment between PFP’s focus on extrinsic market-based pay incentives and intrinsically motivated government workers. Frequently missing from this analysis, however, is any consideration for whether PFP leads to positive “sorting” effects on the composition of a government agency’s workforce through attraction, selection, and attrition processes. Using data from two waves of the Schools and Staffing Survey, the authors examine whether PFP influences the sorting patterns of K–12 public schoolteachers across U.S. school districts. Findings show that, on average, school districts that adopted PFP secured new teacher hires who had graduated from colleges and universities with average SAT scores that were about 30 points higher than the new teacher cohorts hired by districts that did not adopt PFP.

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For the study, see: