International merit pay study inadequate for making policy decisions, independent review finds
Harvard PEPG study used 'unreliable and invalid' information to back up its conclusions
EAST LANSING, Mich. (March 31, 2011) — A study promoting merit pay for teachers is flawed and should not be used to guide public policy decisions, according to an independent review released today.
The study entitled, Cross-Country Evidence on Teacher Performance Pay, was released by the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance (an abridged version was also published in Education Next). The study claims that students in nations that use merit pay for teachers score higher on an international achievement test.
The study was thoroughly reviewed by researcher Matthias von Davier, Ph.D., principal research scientist with the Education Testing Service, a nonprofit organization that develops, administers and scores tests in more than 180 countries. Von Davier, a research fellow at the University of Oxford, found that the study reached overly broad conclusions.
The review was produced by the National Education Policy Center with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
Von Davier said the study uses numbers that are "unreliable and invalid" and "leaves too many questions unanswered." He also found that the study compares apples and oranges, making comparisons between nations that have different standards and are socially, economically and culturally distinct. According to von Davier:
The study also looked only at a small set of nations, resulting in simplistic generalizations. Removing just one nation from the set of 28 countries studied substantially skews the results. For example, von Davier found that by just removing Mexico from the Education Next study, the correlation between student performance and merit pay dropped to zero.
"As a consequence, the study does not yield results powerful enough to support the adoption of a policy of performance pay," von Davier said.
The Think Twice think tank review project, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely and academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible in part by the support of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
Find von Davier's complete review and a link to Cross-Country Evidence on Teacher Performance Pay at:
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The review is also available on the National Education Policy website at:
The Think Twice think tank review project, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policy makers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible in part by the support of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
The mission of the Great Lakes Center is to improve public education for all students in the Great Lakes region through the support and dissemination of high quality, academically sound research on education policy and practices.
Visit the Great Lakes Center Web Site at: http://www.greatlakescenter.org