Merit Pay and Cheating in Schools


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Merit pay may encourage dishonest behavior changes in teachers. Photo by o0o0xmods0o0o

During George Bush’s campaign for Presidency in 2000, he spoke of the “Texas Miracle” which purported huge gains in academic achievement and virtually no high school drop outs, due to a very simple formula of accountability (yearly testing) and incentives (essentially merit pay for meeting certain goals).

Houston Superintendent Rod Paige was not only credited with the amazing performance enhancements but subsequently appointed as President Bush’s Secretary of Education.

It turns out that this “miracle” was more of a mirage with doctored reports and students who essentially disappeared from the school district without proper documentation.

Unfortunately this truth did not come out until 2003, not soon enough to stop the train wreck that was about to happen.

Merit-Based Educational Programs

On the back of this supposed miracle in Texas, President Bush and Secretary of Education Rod Paige pushed forward a new National Agenda for Schools named No Child Left Behind. The concept here was that all students should meet certain minimum academic goal and that teachers should be rewarded for success towards this endeavor.

When Barack Obama became president, he upped the ante with Race to the Top, providing additional financial incentive for schools to improve test scores. The concept of merit pay quickly became and even remains to this day, a popular “solution” for encouraging teachers to change their behavior in such a way as to increase their student’s academic achievement as measured on standardized testing.

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