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Incentive pay for teachers improves student performance: Study

VANCOUVER – A new study by the Fraser Institute has found that incentive pay for teachers improves student performance.

The study, Teacher Incentive Pay that Works, examined several teacher incentive pay programs in school systems around the world and looked at students’ performances.

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“Other professions attract and retain talented people with incentive pay based on job performance, so it would seem reasonable for the teaching profession, with its huge impact on children and society, to follow suit,” said Deani Van Pelt, director of the Fraser Institute’s Barbara Mitchell Centre for Improvement in Education.

A teacher incentive pay program could mean annual bonuses connected to student test scores or salary increases based on students’ achievements.

In Canada public school salaries are negotiated by teacher unions and are based on seniority and credentials, not students’ achievements.

However, this study found that teachers who had pay incentives based on their students’ work did see scores improve overall.

“Teachers respond to incentives by changing the way they teach. They are aware of their own effectiveness, and even highly effective teachers want to improve, for themselves and their students,” said Vicki Alger, study author and Fraser Institute senior fellow.

This study found that in Canada overall student performance is waning, particularly in math and sciences.

“Today in Canada, all teachers, no matter their performance or work ethic, receive automatic yearly pay raises—excellence goes unrewarded, mediocrity goes unaddressed. We should want much better for such a critically important profession,” said Van Pelt.

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