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Paying for Performance: The Effect of Teachers' Financial Incentives on Students' Scholastic Outcomes

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  • Lavy, Victor

Abstract

Performance-related pay for teachers is being introduced in many countries, but there is little evaluation to date on the effects of such programmes. This Paper evaluates a particular incentive experiment. The incentive program is a rank-order tournament among teachers of English, Hebrew, and mathematics. Teachers were rewarded with cash bonuses for improvements in their students’ performance on high-school matriculation exams. Since the schools in the programme were not selected at random, the evaluation is based on comparison groups. Three alternative identification strategies are used to estimate the causal effect of the programme: a natural experiment stemming from measurement error in the assignment variable, a regression discontinuity method, and propensity score matching. The results of all three methods tell a consistent story: teachers’ monetary performance incentives have a significant effect on students’ achievements in English and math. No spillover effect on untreated subjects is evident and the general equilibrium impact of the programme is positive as well. The programme is also more cost-effective than alternative forms of intervention such as extra instruction time and is as effective as cash bonuses for students.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3862.

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Date of creation: Apr 2003
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3862

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Keywords: students achievement; teachers incentives;

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References

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  1. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Richards, Craig E. & Sheu, Tian Ming, 1992. "The South Carolina school incentive reward program: A policy analysis," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 71-86, March.
  3. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra E, 1997. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 605-54, October.
  5. Victor Lavy, 2002. "Evaluating the Effect of Teachers' Group Performance Incentives on Pupil Achievement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1286-1317, December.
  6. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  7. Jensen, M.C. & Murphy, K.J., 1988. "Performance Pay And Top Management Incentives," Papers 88-04, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
  8. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra, 1998. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 261-94, April.
  9. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule To Estimate The Effect Of Class Size On Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575, May.
  10. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
  11. Eric A. Hanushek, 2002. "Publicly Provided Education," NBER Working Papers 8799, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Robert Gibbons, 1998. "Incentives in Organizations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 115-132, Fall.
  13. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  14. Kandel, E. & Lazear, E.P., 1990. "Peer Pressure and Partnerships," Papers 90-07, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
  15. Gaynor, Martin & Pauly, Mark V, 1990. "Compensation and Productive Efficiency of Partnerships: Evidence from Medical Group Practice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 544-73, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Eric Gould & Victor Lavy & Daniele M. Paserman, 2004. "Immigrating to Opportunity: Estimating The Effect of School Quality Using a Natural Experiment On Ethiopians in Israel," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 489-526, May.
  2. Kaoru Nabeshima, 2003. "Raising the quality of secondary education in East Asia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3140, The World Bank.
  3. Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2002. "The Promise and Pitfalls of Using Imprecise School Accountability Measures," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(4), pages 91-114, Fall.
  4. Paul Glewwe & Nauman Ilias & Micheal Kremer, 2003. "Teacher incentives," Natural Field Experiments 00257, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. Jonah E. Rockoff, 2004. "The Impact of Individual Teachers on Student Achievement: Evidence from Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 247-252, May.
  6. Jonah Rockoff, 2003. "The Impact of Individual Teachers on Student Achievement: Evidence from Panel Data," Public Economics 0304002, EconWPA.

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