Testing & Policy

NC Experiments with Teacher Bonuses on Test Scores

Some third-grade and high school teachers in North Carolina are getting bonuses this month based on testing results, according to reporting by the Carolina Observer. The idea was to reward teacher performance and retention in student learning and improvement.

Last year the state voted to issue $10 million in teacher merit bonuses to third-grade teachers as part of a two-year reading pilot program. Half of the funds were allocated to be divided among the top 25 percent of teachers across the state based on results from a statewide assessment of student improvement in reading from the beginning of the school year to the end. The other half was issued to local education agencies to divide among teachers falling into their districts' top 25 percent performers.

According to the Observer, state top performers each received $3,523; district-level bonuses ranged from $1,824 to $8,770. In some cases, teachers received bonuses by being in both groups.

Another two-year bonus pool was set aside for an Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate teacher pilot program. The teacher bonuses there were $50 for each high schooler who received a score of three or higher on the College Board AP exam or a score of four or higher on the IB course exam. However, no teacher could earn a bonus higher than $2,000. The Observer noted that while the state had set aside $4.3 million for the AP/IB bonuses, it only distributed $3.6 million.

To collect the bonus, the individual teacher had to commit to teaching the same subject in the same district from the time the data was collected until the school year in which the bonuses were paid.

The state also set aside funding to contract with an independent research organization for evaluations of the pilot. Those results aren't expected until March 2018.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.