Term of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Teri D. Melton

Committee Member 1

Patricia Humphrey

Committee Member 2

Samuel Hardy


This study explored the perceptions of implementing a merit pay plan as reported by elementary teachers in three rural Georgia school districts, one of which was participating in the Race to the Top (RT3) initiative. The study examined the perceptions of 109 elementary teachers in regard to merit pay implementation, models of merit pay, factors worthy of reward, and the impact that perceptions of school culture has on attitudes towards merit pay. The study employed a descriptive survey approach to address the research questions. An amended version of the Teacher Survey on Performance Pay was employed to explore the perceptions of participants. The majority of responding teachers worked in the RT3 district. Respondents were not in favor of the implementation of a merit pay plan and preferred raising the base salary of teachers. The majority of respondents did not favor the presented models of merit pay, although a school-based plan received a higher response of agreement than the others. Respondents indicated that a variety of factors beyond student achievement and teacher evaluations needed to be considered when awarding merit pay and reported unfavorable feelings toward Georgia’s proposed formula. Concerns regarding factors impacting student achievement were expressed, along with frequent concerns for teachers of EIP and inclusion classes and how emphasis on student achievement may impact these areas. Results also indicated that perceptions of school culture have no impact on attitudes towards merit pay. Respondents reported positive views of school culture, yet were not in favor of merit pay implementation. Concerns arose regarding potential negative implications that merit pay may hold for school culture, such as decreased collaboration and increased competitive feelings. Based on comparisons, overall responses from the RT3 district were similar to those of the other two districts who were not RT3 participants. Neither district type was in favor of merit pay. The results of the study indicated an overall negative view of merit pay by teachers, with the destruction of the schools’ collaborative cultures being one of the top concerns. Such feelings may be resolved if teachers are active participants when creating a merit pay plan.