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Evidence Teacher Merit Pay Works Overseas… and Debunking Thereof

I'm busy at work practicing making the top 20%. But for your consideration, Michael Black submits this study from Ludger Woessmann that suggests countries with some sort of teacher merit pay system have somewhat higher student test scores.

Cue Tony Amert to thunder, "Correlation is not causation!" Cue Woessmann's own cautions... and cue this effective dismantling of Woessmann's work, submitted by Sam Peil Sunday:

Although the author lists numerous caveats, his broad conclusions do not heed these cautions. The fundamental differences among countries in the types of performance pay system are not properly considered. Nations are simply lumped together as having or not having a performance pay plan. Also, the length of time the program had been in place in each country is not addressed and the unknown intensity of program implementations argue against drawing lessons from this study. The small sample size of 28 observations requires extreme caution in interpretation. For example, the inclusion or exclusion of a single country results in large shifts in the size of the reported relationships. That is, the numbers become unreliable and invalid. With any correlational study, attributing causality is problematic; the differences among nations could be due to any number of factors. Finally, the type of regression-based analyses used to support the performance pay conclusion does not properly consider that the background variables used in these analyses can vary in terms of relationships with student scores and have different definitions across the countries under study. Therefore, drawing policy conclusions about teacher performance pay on the basis of this analysis is not warranted [Matthias von Davier, "Review of 'Cross-Country Evidence on Teacher Performance Pay'," National Education Policy Center, March 2011].

Drawing policy conclusions about teacher performance pay on the basis of this analysis is not warranted. Next!