Merit Pay for Students Fails to Raise Scores, Study Finds
A multicity experiment to test the effect of paying students for performance succeeded in increasing achievement when the payments were tied to specific behaviors related to learning, such as reading books, but not when the awards depended directly on test scores, new findings show.
“Providing incentives for achievement-test scores has no effect on any form of achievement we can measure,” wrote Harvard University economist Roland G. Fryer in a working paper published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Still, he concluded, if cash rewards are linked to behavior that can contribute to better student outcomes, “incentives can be a cost-effective strategy to raise achievement even among the poorest students...
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