A three year study conducted by Vanderbilt University indicates that monetary incentives have minimal to no effect on teacher performance.
The study included 300 middle school mathematics teachers in Nashville, Tennessee, who voluntarily took part in the project. It was designed to study the hypothesis that a large monetary incentive would cause teachers to seek ways to be more effective and boost student scores as a result.
A limited effect on 5th graders was seen in the second and third year of the experiment. No effect was seen for students in grades 6-8 in any year of the study.
Dr. Ed Dickey, University of South Carolina professor and former chair of the Department of Instruction and Teacher Education says money may work as an incentive to increase quality of work in many professions, but in his experience, effective and dedicated teachers have a calling.
Dickey says good teachers are found everywhere no matter the pay scale, but it is always good to reward someone for a job well done.
Dickey says for dedicated teachers, the reward that gives them that special rush is seeing their pupils achieve a solid grasp of the subject matter they are trying to impart to them.
Dickey surmises that there are many reasons a person may be led to dedicate themselves to the teaching profession; certainly the love of seeing kids learn and achieve is one, but also all good educators have a tremendous passion for the subject matter they are teaching.
Dickey says he dislikes the idea of framing the teaching profession as a noble gesture that may be performed over a brief period of one’s adult life before moving on to better and more lucrative challenges and professions.