Study Casts Cold Water on Bonus Pay
Lasting Achievement Gains Absent
The most rigorous experimental study of performance-based teacher compensation ever conducted in the United States shows that a nationally watched bonus-pay system had no overall impact on student achievement—results released last week that are certain to set off a firestorm of debate.
Nearly 300 middle school mathematics teachers in Nashville, Tenn., voluntarily took part in the Project on Incentives in Teaching, a three-year randomized experiment conducted by researchers affiliated with the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University. It was designed to study the hypothesis that a large monetary incentive would cause teachers to seek ways to be more effective and boost student scores as a result.
But it yielded only two small positive findings, limited to 5th graders in the second and third years of the experiment. No effects were seen for students in grades 6-8 in...
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