January 30, 2003
A Merit Pay Plan for Manitoba Teachers
1. Manitoba uses the same salary grid as the majority of school districts in North America. Two axes appear on this grid—the teacher’s years of university education and years of experience.
2. Studies show no correlation between the number of years of university education a teacher possesses and the performance of the teacher’s students. They show only a small correlation between years of experience and student performance.
3. A strong case for implementing some form of merit pay can be made. It would reward teachers who do a good job and weed out poor teachers. The majority of professionals in other occupations are already reimbursed with a merit pay system.
4. A minority of school districts in the United States use a merit pay system. Those described in this report include Douglas County, Virginia Beach, Midland, Evanston, Cincinnati and Denver. In particular, the merit pay regimes in Cincinnati and Denver have aspects worth emulating.
5. In a merit pay plan for Manitoba, a new salary grid would be created. The impact of increments based on experience would be lessened and the consideration of the teacher’s years of university education would be entirely replaced by six merit levels. A teacher’s merit level placement would depend partially on in-school evaluations and student performance on standards exams. Principals will also have six possible merit levels, determined entirely by student performance.
6. A preliminary cost analysis for merit pay makes two key assumptions, that a roughly equal number of teachers will be placed at each merit level and that teachers will have a fairly even spread of experience amongst teachers. The cost of a merit pay plan under those conditions would be approximately equivalent to current expenditures on teachers’ salaries.
is a Senior Scholar at the University of Manitoba and a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy (www.fcpp.org). He received his B.Ed and M.Ed. from the University of Alberta, his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, and his Fil.Dr. from the University of Stockholm. In addition, he has been awarded a Spencer Fellowship from the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, a Rh. Award from the University of Manitoba, a R.W.B. Jackson Research Award from the Canadian Educational Researchers’ Association, and both an Edward Sheffield and a Distinguished Research Awards from the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education. He has written for numerous newspapers and journals, including the Canadian Journal of Education, Policy Options, Sociology of Education, the National Post, and the Winnipeg Free Press. His books include Socioeconomic Status, Attitudes, and Educational Performances: A Comparison of Students in England and New Zealand, Authority in Classrooms, Crosscurrents: Contemporary Canadian Educational Issues, and Recent Social Trends in Canada, 1960-2000. His most recent book, What’s Wrong With Our Schools and How We Can Fix Them, was published in 2010 and was written with Michael Zwaagstra and John Long.