The Oregon City School District has decided to reject a $2.54 million federal grant meant to reward top educators, partly because of philosophical concerns over performance-based pay.
When the district won the money last September through a group application with six other districts and the non-profit Chalkboard Project, Oregon City's union and administration at first insisted they could devise a way to tap the federal government's "Teacher Incentive Fund" without offering merit-based pay incentives.
A year later, after failing to agree on a plan for individual bonuses, the 8,100-student district has decided to abandon the program.
Performance-based compensation models in education, especially those using student test scores, are the subject of vigorous debate across the country.
Opponents say studies offer little evidence that performance-based pay improves student achievement, while the U.S. Department of Education has been a strong proponent of the measures, pouring billions into districts that agree to implement merit-based pay through competitive grant programs such as the Teacher Incentive Fund and Race To the Top.