Policy Factsheet

Teacher Performance-Related Pay Programs

Reasons for Policy

  • Close to 100% of public school teachers are paid by salary schedules.1
  • Salary schedules pay by years of experience and education level, two variables which are weakly correlated with student outcomes.2

Community Groups

  • Local Government
  • Local School Board
  • Parent Teacher's Association
  • Teacher's Union

Policy Components

  • Policy approach varies by school district. In general, teacher pay plans should be linked to student achievement, professional evaluations, and professional growth activities.

Desired Outcomes

  • Improve teacher and administrator productivity
  • Recruit more qualified teachers
  • Improve student academic achievement

Level of Evidence Available to Evaluate Effectiveness of Policy

For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science.

The effectiveness level of this policy is 2: Policies with Consistent Evidence from High-Quality Observational Studies.

The levels of effectiveness as noted are:

  1. meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design);
  2. consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only;
  3. insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.

Achievable Results

Incentive programs can have positive effects on teacher behavior.4 However, the scientific evidence is limited by a preponderance of observational studies. More research is needed to determine the magnitude of potential effects and identify the optimal configuration of performance incentives.

Community Examples

Links to Policy Examples


  1. Podgursky, M (2007). Teams versus bureaucracies: Personnel policy, wage-setting, and teacher quality in traditional public, charter, and private schools. In M. Berends, M.G. Springer, & H. Walberg (Eds.), Charter school outcomes. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.  

  2. Hanuschek, E.A. (2003). The failure of input-based resource policies. Economic Journal, 113, F64-F68.  

  3. Flay, BR, Biglan, A, Boruch, RF, Ganzalez Castro, F, Gottfredson, D, Kellam, S, Moscicki, EK, Schinke, S, Valentine, JC, & Ji, P (2005). Standards of evidence: Criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prevention Science, 6(3), 151-175.

  4. Podgursky, M & Springer, MG (2007). Teacher performance pay: A review. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 26(4) 909-949.