, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 429–443 | Cite as

Teacher professionalism under the recent reform of performance pay in Mainland China

  • Lijia WangEmail author
  • Manhong Lai
  • Leslie Nai-Kwai Lo
Open File


In 2009, a reform in teachers’ pay, linking remuneration to performance, was implemented in China. The intention was to improve the quality of education by making teachers more diligent and creative and removing the inequality in pay between teachers in different schools. A review of this reform reveals that it has resolved the problem of inequality between teachers working in different schools but has created a new inequality: between teachers within the same schools. Also, the performance evaluation, based mostly on quantitative data such as student test scores, has led to teachers formalising their work and adopting an approach of “compliant professionalism”. Teachers’ workloads have increased, and only teachers who perform well on empirical performance indicators are given opportunities for professional development and remuneration. The findings suggest that a focus on teaching and on teachers’ autonomy is needed to achieve the goal of improving the quality of education.


Teacher professionalism Performance pay Teacher accountability Teacher performance Employment incentives Education reform China 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.East China Normal UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.The Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  3. 3.Beijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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