TEACHERS’ PERCEPTIONS ABOUT HOW AN ALTERNATIVE METHOD OF COMPENSATION AFFECTED THEIR TEACHING PRACTICE
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Teachers have historically been paid using a single salary schedule. However, since the publication of A Nation at Risk (1983), calls for implementing reforms have led to alternative pay for teachers becoming increasingly common among districts across the nation. Such implementations have seldom been accompanied by input from teachers about how such methods affect their profession. Since teacher’s voice seems to remain almost absent in research about these implementations, with a few exceptions noted in the literature review, their input about how such methods of alternative compensation impact their work as educators emerge as a necessity. Research-based knowledge must fill this need. The purpose of the study was to measure teachers’ perceptions about how an alternative method of compensation has affected their teaching practice, motivation, and collaboration. The study sought to describe patterns of relationships between the perceptions of teachers about the impact on teaching practice, motivation, and collaboration of the incentive pay plan implemented under the Districts Awards for Teacher Excellence (DATE) and an array of independent variables related to the exercise of their profession in their campus. These variables include money awarded by the program, subject and grade taught, and teacher characteristics (experience, certification, demographic data, etc.). A survey research design was used in the study. The instrument was administered to teachers in elementary and middle schools campuses in the Fort Bend Independent School District, in the metro area of Houston, Texas, where alternative compensation funded by the District Awards for Teacher Excellence (DATE) was implemented. Data collection occurred during May 2010, and the online survey was accessed by 241 teachers. One potential participant did not accept to take part in the study and 22 participants did not answer any instrument’s item, thus leaving the total number of actual respondents to 219. Factorization techniques were used to confirm the validity and reliability of the instrument. Data analysis was conducted using simultaneous multiple linear regression statistical techniques. The results of the study showed that the scales developed to measure the perceived impact of compensation on teaching practice, motivation, and collaboration are adequate scientific measurement tools. The results also indicated that the findings concluded from the scales developed should be analyzed with caution. The regression models processed to find the degree of association between predictor variables and the perceived effect of alternative compensation did not show statistical significance in two of the three perception scales measured: teaching practice and collaboration. The regression model processed to find the degree of association between predictor variables and the perceived effect of alternative compensation on motivation showed overall statistical significance. Two independent variables in the model showed a statistically significant degree of relationship with the dependable variable: one positive (Asian teachers compare to White teachers) and one negative (Age). Therefore, it seems reasonable to suggest that the DATE incentive program did not affect in any significant way teachers’ teaching practice, motivation, and collaboration in the exercise of their profession, as perceived by the teachers themselves.