Merit Pay for Teachers: A Review Page: 3
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ers. Those who leave the profession, however, generally include pay as at least one of the
factors that influenced their decision to quit teaching (Ornstein, 1980).
Those who are charged with the responsibility for determining the importance of pay to
teachers should consider the following:
(1) Do not assume that pay is necessarily the most important factor in job satisfaction
for all teachers.
(2) Be aware that pay, security, appreciation and opportunity are important factors to
teachers. In fact, the lack of opportunity for advancement as a classroom teacher is
possibly a key factor in low teacher morale.
(3) Do look beyond economic complaints and demands and see if there are non-economic
causes for low teacher morale (e.g., working conditions, status, discipline prob-
lems, non-professional tasks).
(4) Do tie pay to performance and make it a form of recognition if pay is to be impor-
tant enough to motivate good teaching performance (Lawler 1971, pp. 76-139).
Determinants of Pay Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction
In 1971, Lawler indicated that between two thousand and four thousand studies that are
concerned with pay satisfaction and job satisfaction had been published during the previous
31 years. From these studies, he makes the following observations:
I. Conditions Leading to Pay Dissatisfaction
(A) People who perceive their job to be demanding without adequate compensation will
be more dissatisfied than those who perceive their jobs as undemanding.
(B) People who perceive that they receive few attractive non-monetary outcomes from
their jobs will be more dissatisfied than those who feel they receive many.
(C) People who are paid a low wage will become more dissatisfied than those who
receive a high wage. (Teachers are generally more dissatisfied with their salaries
than are administrators).
(D) The more salary a person perceives his peers as receiving, the more dissatisfied he
will be with his own present pay. This is particularly true when others are seen to
hold a job that demands the same or similar work (Lawler 1971, p. 221).
Consequences of pay dissatisfaction include absenteeism, poor performance, low job
satisfaction, union membership, filing grievances, and striking.
II. Conditions Leading to Pay Satisfaction
Obviously, school officials, like managers in business, are concerned with the level of
job satisfaction among their employees. Designing a pay program that will lead to a
high level of job satisfaction for all employees is a difficult and potentially costly under-
taking. A number of conditions may lead to job satisfaction:
(A) Results of research on pay satisfaction clearly show that raising a person's pay
should increase his job satisfaction because it increases his perception of the value
of his performance. An obvious problem with this approach is that such a process
can be very costly. A second possible problem is that it could lead to decreased
motivation in that when some people are given enough money, they cease to be
motivated. Pay satisfaction of employees should be continuously monitored in order
to allow supervisors to determine the impact of the funds used for pay raises.
(B) There is evidence to support the contention that raising salaries is not the only way
to raise employees' satisfaction with their salaries. For example, a common practice
today is the awarding of fringe benefits as well as cash.
(C) While most supervisors would probably argue that pay secrecy minimizes pay
dissatisfaction, it seems possible that, other factors being equal, employers could
raise the pay satisfaction level of workers by making pay rates public. A study
done by Beer and Gary in 1968 shows that employees who had accurate infor-
mation about pay rates were more favorable to the concept of merit pay.
(D) Clearly, pay serves to motivate people when it is closely tied to performance.
People are more satisfied with their pay when they feel it is based upon performance.
(E) If pay satisfaction is to be high, pay rates must vary according to job demands in
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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/m1/5/: accessed February 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Education.