Performance-based pay boosters must be disappointed by this news. The Chicago Teacher Advancement Program is showing no effect in raising achievement in math or reading. Likewise, it's showing no effect in increasing teacher retention rates in schools.
Free-market disciples desperately want to believe that merit-based pay is the key to reforming education. But this analysis suggests that's not the case for Chicago Public Schools and, I suspect, for any schools.
My theory is that basic economic principles don't apply perfectly to public education because money isn't the motivation for most educators. I suspect the same would apply to social workers or clergy. Certainly, everyone wants to be fairly and adequately compensated, but I believe educators derive job satisfaction from more than their paychecks.
Some are theorizing that the size of the payouts in the Chicago program limits its effectiveness. Maybe. But that begs a bigger question: If it requires increased salaries to improve schools, will taxpayers be willing to pay?