Performance Pay System Preferences of Students Preparing to be Teachers

WCER Working Paper No. 2006-8

Anthony Milanowski

October 2006, 21 pp.

ABSTRACT: Traditionally, U.S. K–12 teachers have expressed little support for performance-based pay. This could be due to negative experiences with subjective performance evaluation, changing district priorities, or recurring budget crises. Alternatively, the personality traits and work values common to those choosing a teaching career may predispose them to dislike performance pay. This study explored these potential influences by assessing the performance pay preferences of students preparing to be teachers at a large U.S. university, using focus groups and a survey. Students were asked to rate and rank three performance pay approaches and one approach not based on performance. Personality and work values were also measured. Most students expressed a preference for some form of performance pay, and tended to prefer pay based on individual performance or pay for knowledge and skill development over pay based on school performance. The personality traits and work values measured were not related to preferences for different performance pay approaches or performance pay in general. These results imply that career experiences rather than personality or work values influence favorability toward performance pay. Beginning teachers may be more favorable than their more experienced colleagues, providing an opening for advocates of performance pay to obtain support for changing the traditional salary structure.

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keywords: Performance Pay; Beginning Teachers; Pay System Preferences