Date of Award

Spring 4-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Dr. Terry Reid

Second Advisor

Dr. Sherry DeVore

Third Advisor

Dr. Patricia Conner

Abstract

With teacher evaluations, school ratings, and ultimately school funding being linked more and more to student achievement data, U.S. public schools are searching for new and effective ways to boost academic testing scores. This study examined teachers’ and administrators’ experiences with and perceptions of merit pay, with the goal of identifying key program components positively impacting student success. With this information, solid and successful merit pay structures could be implemented in schools across the nation. Professional educators from two Midwest states who were involved in performance pay programs participated in the study through both a survey instrument and personal interviews. Surveys were crafted using the review of related literature, then distributed and collected via SurveyMonkey to educators in selected merit pay schools. Likert scale selections and open response inquiries were utilized to assess educator opinions and experiences. Personal interviews were scheduled and conducted within one Arkansas school district. This district employed an innovative merit pay program for educational stakeholders. Experiences, perceived strengths and weaknesses, and results of the merit pay structure were discussed during the interview sessions. Valuable perceptions regarding merit pay structure and implementation were gained. Three important factors of any successful school motivation program emerged. These three components included development of a purpose driven structure, fair measurement of student growth, and educator empowerment. Further research is recommended to determine varied and effective ways to structure programs to sustainably increase student achievement gains.

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