“Define and implement a system of performance-based pay for all Arkansas state employees and public K-12 employees, including teachers.” (Murphy Commission, 1998 stud, “Making Arkansas State Government Performance Driver And Accountable”)

(July 2008) Teachers in two Arkansas school districts—Cross County and Lincoln—will participate in merit pay programs in the upcoming 2008-09 school year. The programs will be based in part on student performance, including grades and test scores on a standardized state test.

Twelve Arkansas school districts are authorized t participate in pilot merit (performance) pay programs under PA 1029 of 2007, sponsored by state Rep. Mike Kenney, R-Siloam Springs. Cross County and Lincoln are the first districts to participate under the measure, which included a statement of legislative intent to provide incentives to “encourage teachers to improve their knowledge and instructional skills in order to improve student learning.”

The measure specifies that “performance goals and benchmarks for improvement” will be among determining factors of merit pay programs, along with student test scores.

Little Rock, the state’s largest school district, experimented with teacher performance pay earlier this decade.

Murphy Recommendation Advances

Teacher performance pay was a recommendation of the Murphy Commission, a Policy Foundation project that spent three years (1996-98) examining Arkansas government before issuing reports that featured recommendations. The panel also recommended performance pay for public school administrators.

The idea is discussed in a Murphy Commission Study, “Making Arkansas State Government Performance Driven And Accountable”. The study is available for free at: www.arkansaspolicyfoundation.org.