A very interesting study supporting the not surprising anywhere but in education, concept that the ability to pay better teachers more can improve student results. Quote from the WSJ article is below, and the full study can be found at Unions, Salaries, and The Market for Teachers: Evidence from Wisconsin.
Ms. Biasi found that better teachers gravitate to districts where they can negotiate their own pay while lousy teachers tend to migrate toward those where salary scales are regimented. The study found “a 34 percent increase in the quality of teachers moving from salary schedule to individual-salary districts, and a 17 percent decrease in the quality of teachers exiting individual-salary districts.” “These sorting patterns,” Ms. Biasi concludes, “lead to a small increase in average quality of the teaching workforce in individual-salary districts.” Student math achievement rose significantly in individual-salary districts relative to salary-schedule districts due in part to improvements in the teacher workforce.
She adds that the increase in student achievement in these districts was too large to attribute merely to the inflow of high-quality teachers. Individual-salary negotiations might also encourage incumbent teachers to improve their skills and boost the quality of new teacher applicants.
The lesson is that incentives matter in education as in the rest of American life.