Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Thoughts on the Failure of Merit Pay

This was posted on Education Week on April 6, 2011.

"It is curious that teachers vigorously oppose merit pay, even though they are the ones who are supposed to reap the rewards. What do they know? They know that merit pay undermines collaboration and teamwork. They know that it corrupts the culture of the school.

Here are a few readings that I have found useful.
Andrea Gabor wrote an opinion piece recently for Education Week that describes what she learned from the work of W. Edwards Deming, the eminent business consultant. I learned a lot by reading her book The Man Who Discovered Quality, about Deming's philosophy. Chapter 9 summarizes Deming's strong opposition to merit ranking and merit pay. Bottom line: It is bad for corporations. It gets everyone thinking about what is good for himself or herself and leads to forgetting about the goals of the organization. It incentivizes short-term thinking and discourages long-term thinking.

Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational explains why money is not as good a motivator as a sense of purpose. Ariely is an economist of human behavior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and he has demonstrated again and again that people will work harder for idealistic reasons than for a promise of money. He warns of the danger of shifting education from "social norms" to "market norms." This is precisely what the corporate reformers want to do.
And then there is Daniel Pink, who has written Drive and also created a delightful YouTube video, to reinforce the view that a sense of purpose, the desire to make a difference, is a better motivator than cash on the table.

Merit pay is the idea that never works and never dies."

Diane Ravitch

Read the Full Article:
"Thoughts on the Failure of Merit Pay"