Mississippi Teachers’ Perception of Merit Pay

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Stephens, Diana M
motivation; performance based pay; pilot study; increase student achievement; Education; Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research
thesis / dissertation description
Teachers are the center of increasing student achievement and student motivation, therefore a way to motivate teachers must be implemented. Although most teachers are motivated intrinsically for their love of teaching, external motivation could add another component to teacher success. Merit pay is one way to provide an external motivator to change teaching strategies in order to increase student achievement. This study measured teachers’ perceptions in Mississippi who are involved in the merit pay pilot program. There are four school districts participating in the pilot program and two of those school districts were surveyed for this study, a central Mississippi school district and a south Mississippi school district. The data showed that teachers’ perception was moderate and improvements to the program could be made to increase the positive perception of teachers’ regarding the merit pay program. No statistical difference was found between low and high socioeconomic schools, veteran teachers and nonveteran teachers, or teachers who teach tested grades and teachers who do not. Therefore, regardless of where and who the teachers teach they do not have a different perception of merit pay. When the merit pay criteria was correlated with teachers’ perception of merit pay there was a moderate positive correlation revealing that if teachers understand and have buy-in to the criteria they are having to meet to earn merit pay they have a more positive perception of the program. Merit pay has the potential to motivate teachers to change teaching strategies in the classroom when the focus stays on the successful strategies of implementing merit pay.