The Minnesota Star Tribune Newspaper examined the state's voluntary merit pay program for teachers called Q Comp (Quality Compensation), a program their Governor is looking to expand to over $100 million next year. Of 22 districts they focused on, they found that 99% of the teachers in those districts received merit pay during the 07 - 08 school year. About 30 of the 4200 teachers in these districts did not receive any merit pay.
Under Q Comp teachers can be rewarded up to $2,000 a school year or up to $260 per student for a variety of things negotiated between districts and their local unions, including student performance increases, meeting professional development goals, peer evaluation and school-wide performance on tests. The newspaper's examination found that the reading and math test scores in the 22 districts showed no student gains as compared to districts not participating in the merit pay program, and while almost all teachers received merit pay, many received a reduced amount because their students didn't meet testing goals.
Proponents of Q Comp say the program needs more time to show a student achievement effect, provides a mechanism for professional development opportunities like professional learning communities and coaching, not otherwise available, and is the only way teachers can receive additional pay in this tough economic climate.
Critics say student achievement is too minimal a piece of the overall merit pay focus in Q Comp and that this money could be used to fund needier parts of the education system, such as class size. Since almost all teachers in the program are receiving some amount of merit pay, critics question whether Q Comp is really meeting what it was intended to do.
Currently, 44 districts serving about 1/3 of Minnesota's total student population participate in Q Comp.