"The single most important [in-school] determinant of a student's success in the classroom is the teacher," says Matthew Springer, director of the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. "Yet the ways in which we compensate teachers – years of experience and degrees held – are not strongly correlated with student achievement gains.... That's driving some advocates [of compensation changes] to say there must be a better way."
Where this is happening
Florida, Minnesota, and Texas, along with several other states to a lesser degree, now have policies promoting what's sometimes called merit pay. Houston and New York City have recently developed districtwide programs. And even in the midst of the recession, a portion of schools in dozens of districts are trying experiments through grants from foundations and the US Department of Education's Teacher Incentive Fund.