Having been a recipient of incentive pay, I say with a straight face that we must move forward with incentive pay programs.
One of the huge shortfalls of the education system is the non relationship between aptitude/ performance with advancement in either wage or influence. A small bonus of a few thousand dollars won’t be as determinant as either making teaching more exclusive or empowering teachers to have influence outside the classroom. However, any recognition of hard work is going to make those that work hard more satisfying. The biggest problem with the Houston program was the secrecy. Knowing what goes into the calculation and acknowledging it measures what its supposed to be measuring could only help to motivate.
The biggest barrier to incentive pay moving forward will be the controversy around a single critque: a summative, end of year, half day, multiple-choice test every few years is simply not going to be an altogether accurate measure of a teacher’s value-add. At least, not accurate enough to be adding the high stakes of unequal distribution of incentive pay. The ultimate opportunity for educational technology will be to provide tools that serve as a much better reading of the value added to each individual student by each individual teacher. It will of course never be even close to being close. There are too many other unmeasurable variables. However, it could certainly be dramatically improved by a little ingenuity. A good article on this is at Education Next.