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Teacher Merit Pay Linked To Student-Learning Gains

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A merit-pay program for teachers in Arkansas' largest school district appears to be spurring gains in student test scores, according to an analysis by researchers from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

The study examines test-score data for two elementary schools taking part in a pilot merit-pay program launched in 2004 by the Little Rock school district. Under the program, teachers could earn bonuses of up to $11,000 a year if their students made significant gains on standardized tests.

The researchers found that the program appeared to pay off: Compared with their counterparts at three other district elementary schools, students in the pilot-program schools made bigger learning gains over the school year. The gains, on average, translated to about 7 percentile points on a nationally normed test, the researchers say.

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