Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

A Comparison of District School Superintendents' and School Board Chair's Attitudes toward Merit Pay Programs

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

A Comparison of District School Superintendents' and School Board Chair's Attitudes toward Merit Pay Programs

Article excerpt

The stated purposes of including a strong compensation package, often in the form of an incentive program, in the educational reform movement were to attract and to retain quality personnel in education. In their research, Sparkman(2) and Castetter(3) found interaction among money, teacher recruitment and retention, status, position performance and personnel satisfaction had positive relationships with the retention of quality personnel in local school districts. Researchers have also identified positive relationships between schools participating in incentive programs, student achievement in those schools and teacher productivity. MGT Consultants(4) documented the positive effects incentive programs have on education in a state study in the southeast. Teachers judged "average" before the incentive program received "superior" ratings after their involvement, thus, involvement in incentive programs had positive effects on teacher morale and performance. It is postulated that these positive effects promoted greater teacher job satisfaction which supported teacher retention and had an equally positive effect on the provision of quality education. Mickler(5) and Haas(6) outlined the rationale for merit pay and determined it was simple. If teacher's pay was a direct result of their performance in the classroom, they would work harder and be more effective. The incentive system would reward those who displayed extra effort and would exert pressure on those who did not to leave the system. The possible resulting effect, according to Burns(7) with the retention of qualified personnel, would be that schools would improve. Similar to this business practice, in education, the reform movement has brought to the forefront the concept of paying people for exemplary performance and increased productivity.

Along with a strong compensation package, management theorists, Scanlon and Keys(8), determined that to operate a positive result-producing organization, people and resources must be managed effectively and efficiently. In order to retain quality personnel in education by utilizing incentive programs, this same type of effective and efficient management would be necessary.

Henry Fayol in the late nineteenth century was one of the first management theorist to recognize the need to effectively manage people and resources to achieve organizational success. Fayol identified management functions, which when practiced in organizations, resulted in those organizations achieving success. Scanlon and Keys(9) further developed philosophies from the Fayol school of management by outlining four functions of management, which if used effectively and efficiently, would yield a positive result-producing organization. These management functions were planning, organizing, directing and controlling which combine people and resources to achieve desired organizational objectives.

In order for merit pay to have a positive effect on education, it must be managed efficiently within the local school district. Abrams(10) and Downey(11), determined the major role of both the superintendent and school board chairman is to provide leadership for the school district. Scanlon and Keys(12) agreed with these writers that leadership, or directing as they term it, would be an important function of both offices. They also added three other functions of management that applied. The school board and the superintendent's office plan the implementation of the merit program with the latter administrator organizing the staff to implement the plan. Controlling or evaluating the plan is also the responsibility of both offices. The management theorists postulated that all these management components must be in place if the program achieves its objective and that is to be result-producing.

This study was undertaken to compare demographic data of superintendents and school board chairs to determine whether there were differences between those who favored merit pay and those who did not. …

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