Merit Pay for Teachers: A Review Page: 2
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salaries will correspond to a middle-class budget will depend on the future rate of inflation.
While there has been a drop in the rate of inflation during the past year, one can predict that
future teacher salaries, on the average, will fall below the intermediate budget level for a
family of four.
These data and the projections pose a grave threat to the teaching profession in that they
may affect entry standards, job performance and teacher morale. The bleak prospects create
pressure on teacher organizations to resort to strikes for improved salaries. Strikes, in turn,
cause enmity between teachers and the public. For colleges of education, these conditions
may mean that fewer students, especially the academically talented, will seek careers in
teaching (Ornstein, 1980).
Academic Talent and the Teaching Profession
Questions related to academic ability and its relationship to teaching effectiveness have
long been a subject of debate among professional educators. Numerous colleges of educa-
tion, during an era of sharp decline in teacher applicants (1971-1980), argued that academic
ability was not related to effective teaching, although this argument has not been substanti-
ated through research.
This argument aside, the facts related to teacher education and academic talent include
(1) Education majors as a group are less academically able than the majority of other
college majors (Weaver, 1979).
(2) Graduates majoring in education are not as academically proficient as most other
categories of college graduates (Koerner, 1963).
(3) There is now some evidence to suggest that some education graduates do not per-
form as well on tests of academic achievement as do students who seek careers in
other professions (Lyons, 1979).
(4) Schenby and Vane (1981) conducted a study in which they found that, as a group,
teacher-education students scored lower on tests of academic achievement than did
teachers in the recent past. Moreover, their findings indicate that those most likely
to leave teaching in the greatest numbers are those who are most academically able.
Of even more concern is their finding that those who remain in teaching for the
longest periods of time come from the ranks of the least academically able.
Although these studies are limited, one may assume that similar patterns hold for Texas.
There have been and continue to be patterns of academic decline. Unfortunately, this de-
cline is most evident among white females, a group that has been the backbone of the
teaching profession for decades. One can also assume that almost half of the individuals
who entered teaching in 1980 will no longer be teaching in 1990. Sadly, there is a strong
negative correlation between retention in teaching and academic ability. Those who score
highest on tests of academic ability are most likely to leave for more lucrative jobs.
The Importance of Pay
Teachers, as well as other professionals, view pay as a means for the satisfaction of a
number of human needs. In addition, pay is also a strong factor in helping teachers meet
certain psychological needs such as esteem and recognition. Studies conducted in the busi-
ness world indicate that highly paid people are more satisfied and exhibit less anxiety than
do their lower paid peers. Higher pay leads to security and is instrumental in meeting
autonomy and independence needs.
It is also possible that other rewards may substitute for higher pay. Once salary is above
a certain level, rewards that enhance self-esteem or provide recognition may be as effective
as monetary increases. For example, a classroom teacher may elect to leave the classroom
to seek an administrative post not only for higher pay, but for other rewards-a larger
office, a new title, or, more importantly, the opportunity to influence the direction of
In discussions of the teaching profession, one frequently hears the comment that love of
children and learning, and dedication to an ideal are more important than money for teach-
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Muro, James F. Merit Pay for Teachers: A Review, pamphlet, December 1983; [Denton, Texas]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc83299/m1/4/: accessed July 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Education.