Last year, the City of Newark, New Jersey and the Newark Teachers Union approved a contract that included a "controversial merit-pay program," the first large school district in New Jersey to undertake such a program. Last week, 190 Newark teachers received a total of $1.4 million in bonuses - teachers received a $5,000 bonus for being rated as "highly effective," another $5,000 for working at a poorly performing school, and an additional $2,500 for teaching subjects such as math and science that are difficult for the district to staff. According to The Wall Street Journal, the new merit-pay system does more than just reward effective teachers:
In the past, Newark teachers—like most local educators across the nation—were rewarded for longevity and for obtaining higher degrees. The new pay system, which covers about two-thirds of Newark's public schoolteachers, eliminated automatic annual raises for experience, made teachers eligible for bonuses and did away with automatic pay increases for advanced degrees. The school district is among the poorest in New Jersey and has long posted some of the state's worst results on standardized tests.