Iowa School Superintendents Perceptions of the General Effects of Phase III Plans
Dick, Earl Marvin
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The Problem Many reports calling for educational reform have included recommendations for performance-based or incentive pay as a method for improving teacher performance. In Iowa, legislation has incorporated both performance-based pay and incentive pay for teachers into the state's Phase III program. The intent of Phase III is to improve teacher performance through financial rewards for teachers who exhibit superior performance or who assume extra tasks. This study examines Iowa public school superintendents' perceptions of the effects of Phase III plans and, specifically, if superintendents believe that Phase III has impacted teacher performance. Procedures: To determine superintendent perceptions, the researcher developed the Superintendent Perceptions of Phase III Survev. After a pilot study, the survey was mailed to 200 Iowa superintendents. A total of 177 surveys (88.5 percent) were returned. Frequency distribution analysis and an ANOVA were utilized to analyze the data. Findings: Superintendents perceived the greatest positive effects of the Phase III program in the areas of staff development, school/district development, decision-making, and instruction. The least positive effect was perceived for student achievement. Superintendents did not believe that Phase III plans that contain performance-based pay have any greater effect than plans that do not contain performance-based pay. No differences were noted in perceptions of superintendents when analyzed according to district size and according to the type of Phase III plan in the superintendents' school districts. Conclusions: Iowa superintendents generally perceive that Phase III plans have had a positive effect upon education. However, during a time when the public and the business community are proposing performance-based pay as a method of improving instruction, superintendents did not believe that plans that include performance-based pay are more effective than plans without performance-based pay. Recommendations: Several areas for future study seem indicated, including studies of teacher and principal perceptions of the effects of Phase III and studies of student achievement since the adoption of Phase III. Additional studies of incentive pay may also be needed.