Dissertation Defense Announcement

College of Education announces the Final Dissertation Defense of

Jill Faulkner

for the Degree of Doctor of Education

April 1, 2019 at 1:00 PM in Varnell-Jones Hall (Lambuth) 

Advisor: Mary Keller Boudreaux

The Relationship Between Teacher Performance, Merit Pay, Selective Teacher Demographics, and Student Achievement in a Rural School District

ABSTRACT: Teacher merit pay has become popular in the last 30 years among policymakers to meet accountability mandates around teacher effectiveness and student achievement. Legislation at the federal level has provided grants and financial incentives to state and local districts to implement differentiated pay plans. Tennessee required all districts to develop a differentiated compensation plan with legislation in 2013 that revised an earlier differentiated compensation policy from 2008. With more rigorous standards and testing at the forefront of education reform in Tennessee, the rural school district in this study developed a strategic compensation plan with bonus pay based on student test scores as one of the components. The purpose of this ex post facto, causal-comparative study was to examine the effect of teacher merit pay levels on teacher effectiveness levels and student achievement levels of proficiency within this rural school district in Southwest Tennessee. The study also will consider if there is a difference among the teacher effectiveness scores and student achievement scores and certain moderating variables including content area, years of experience, gender, education level, and amount of bonus. The participants involved in this study were teachers and students of English I, English II, Algebra I, and Algebra II of the only high school in the district between the school years 2013-14 and 2016-17. A series of chi-square analyses determined whether teacher effectiveness and student proficiency levels are significantly different by the level of teacher merit pay received. In addition, logistic regression analyses were used to determine whether specific teacher demographics moderated the association between teacher merit pay levels, student achievement levels, and teacher effectiveness levels.