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Research Project Looks at Effects of Teacher Incentives on Learning

Research Project Looks at Effects of Teacher Incentives on Learning

A multi-year research project from Mathematica Policy Research conducted for the Department of Education is looking at the effect that teacher incentives have on student achievement- finding in preliminary results that incentives increase student learning.

Though incentives can be hard in the sense that determining appropriate bonuses and who receives them is a challenge, the early research indicates that teacher incentives helped students achieve a higher percentile point on tests. This percentile point indicates students being taught by incentivized teachers received additional learning of the equivalent of three weeks, according to

In the study, "[s]chools in 10 districts around the country were assigned by lottery to one of two groups. Each group of schools implemented the same kind of program. They used measures of educator performance that included student achievement and classroom observations. Also, higher performing teachers could take on additional roles, such as becoming mentor teachers. And all educators were provided professional development, the article said.

But in one group, teachers and principals received bonuses based on performance whereas the other group received an automatic one percent bonus.

The study found several interesting trends. For one, the average teacher bonus was $1,800, equal to 4 percent of the average teacher salary. For two, six out of teachers in the schools participating in incentives received bonuses, making the bonuses less challenging to receive than originally planned.

It also found that most educators in schools participating in rewards programs were unfamiliar with the terms and unsure on if they were eligible for bonuses or not.

Even with an increase in understanding, by the second year of the study, 38 percent of teachers still did not understand if they were eligible for bonuses or not.

The research on the ten districts will continue for another two years to determine if understanding and student outcomes will continue to improve.

Read the full article here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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