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Teacher merit pay hasn’t boosted Texas student performance


For the $300 million it spent on merit pay for teachers over the last three years, Texas was hoping for a big boost in student achievement. But according to experts hired by the state, that didn’t happen, reports the Dallas Morning News. The Texas Educator Excellence Grant, or TEEG, plan did not produce the academic improvements that proponents hoped for when the program was launched with much fanfare in 2006, a new report from the National Center on Performance Incentives said. "There is no systematic evidence that TEEG had an impact on student achievement gains," said researchers for Texas A&M University, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Missouri. The study focused on flaws in the way the program was designed and did not conclude whether merit pay for teachers in general is a good idea. The TEEG plan, which provided incentive pay for teachers at about 1,000 campuses a year in lower-income neighborhoods, was discontinued by the Legislature after the 2008-09 school year because of design problems. Lori Taylor of Texas A&M, one of the authors of the study, said one possible cause of the program’s failure was that bonuses were relatively small and were given to most teachers at each school–about 70 percent–so the incentive for individual teachers to push for higher scores was "relatively weak." In addition, campuses that qualified already had to be higher performers, so it was difficult to register much improvement. "There were no significant declines at the schools, but there were no significant improvements, either," Taylor said…

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