Group-Based Performance Pay for Teachers

New York City, NY
NYC and the United Federation of Teachers

2007 - 2010


Can providing teachers with financial incentives, awarded on a group basis, increase school test scores, improve individual student performance, or influence graduation and/or attendance rates?


In a coordinated effort by the mayor’s office, the school chancellor, and the United Federation of Teachers in New York City, 200 NYC public schools participated in a pilot program during the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 school years. The precise design of the incentive program was left to the discretion of participating schools, but there were three requirements

  1. incentives could not be based on seniority.
  2. a compensation committee had to be created at each school, with union representation.
  3. the committee’s decision had to be unanimous as to how incentives would be distributed.


Read the full merit pay paper here.

We found no evidence that group-level teacher incentives for school performance improved student achievement along any measure. If anything, teacher incentives designed in this way may actually decrease student achievement, especially in larger schools. The question remains as to whether varying incentive program designs and amounts would lead to different results.