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Wednesday, September 22, 1999 Published at 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK


Payment by results worth $1,000 bonus

Teachers' unions have opposed performance pay in the UK

Teachers have agreed to a payment by results scheme in the United States.

While teachers in the United Kingdom have bitterly opposed the linking of pay to performance, teachers' unions in Denver, Colorado have agreed that staff will receive payments for improvements in their pupils' exam results.

The two-year pilot scheme will see teachers working towards objectives for improvement - such as raising pupils' results in tests - with bonuses of up to $1,000 available to those who achieve this, plus another $500 for taking part in the project.

[ image: The Denver scheme will test whether standards do improve when teachers' salaries are linked to pupils' results]
The Denver scheme will test whether standards do improve when teachers' salaries are linked to pupils' results
If the experiment is successful, it is intended that the traditional increments for long service and annual raises will be replaced by a system that depends on improvements achieved by teachers.

The Denver Classroom Teachers' Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association, can opt out of the agreement at the end of the pilot study.

In an attempt to remove fears that there would be a lack of clarity over how rewards would be allocated, the payment by results scheme identifies three specific and quantifiable areas for measuring improvement.

These will be results on standardised tests of basic skills, students' grades as assessed by teachers and where pupils are seen to progress as a result of teachers' learning new skills.

For successful teachers, if two objectives are achieved they will receive $500 for each. The bonus will rise in the second year to $750 per objective achieved.

The union has said that this co-operation between staff and education authorities will allow researchers to examine whether linking pay to performance really makes a difference.

Research commissioned by the National Union of Teachers has claimed that performance is not effective in the public sector and that it raises the threat of staff cheating on results to push up their salaries.

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