Date of Award

Spring 1999

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Todd A DeMitchell


The purpose of this study was to determine New Hampshire principal's perceptions regarding alternative compensation plans for teachers. Alternative compensation plans, unlike traditional teacher pay plans, are not based exclusively on years of experience and formal educational attainment. Forms of alternative compensation plans include individually-based merit pay, career ladders, skill-and-knowledge-based pay, and group performance awards.

This research was intended to provide a better understanding of how principals view the various alternatives to traditional salary schedules. An assumption of this study was that principals in the state play the primary role in formal teacher evaluations, and any new compensation plans that emerge would have the greatest chance for success if embraced and supported by principals.

A survey research method of data collection was employed in this study. The entire population of 359 full-time New Hampshire public school principals was surveyed. A survey instrument consisting of a mailed questionnaire was developed to determine the perceptions held by principals regarding current evaluation and compensation practices employed by their school districts, as well as specific teacher compensation alternatives including merit pay, career ladders, skill and knowledge-based pay, and group performance awards. Completed surveys were received from 257 principals resulting in a 72% return rate.

The results of the study indicate that, although New Hampshire school districts are compensating teachers according to traditional salary schedules which do not link pay to performance, a considerable number of districts are either working under or planning to implement an alternative compensation system for teachers. Although principals are largely satisfied with their ability and training in teacher evaluation, there was no correlation between this and support for the implementation of alternative systems. There is a particular reluctance to support merit pay programs which are viewed as competitive, dimly viewed by teachers, and difficult to administer. Other alternatives enjoy more favorable perceptions and merit further exploration.

Based on the findings of the study, recommendations for the development of alternative compensation plans for teachers are presented.