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Incentive Strength and Teacher Productivity: Evidence from a Group-Based Teacher Incentive Pay System

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  • Scott A. Imberman
  • Michael F. Lovenheim

Abstract

Using data from a group incentive program that provides cash bonuses to teachers whose students perform well on standardized tests, we estimate the impact of incentive strength on student achievement. These awards are based on the performances of students within a grade, school and subject, providing substantial variation in group size. We use the share of students in a grade-subject enrolled in a teacher's classes as a proxy for incentive strength since, as the teacher share increases, a teacher's impact on the probability of award receipt rises. We find that student achievement improves when a teacher becomes responsible for more students post program implementation: mean effects are between 0.01 and 0.02 standard deviations for a 10 percentage point increase in share for math, English and social studies, although mean science estimates are small and are not statistically significant. As predicted in our theoretical model, we also find larger effects at smaller shares that fall towards zero as share increases. For all four subjects studied, effect sizes start at 0.05 to 0.09 standard deviations for a 10 percentage point increase in share when share is initially close to zero and fade out as share increases. These findings suggest that small groups provide productivity gains over large groups. Further, they suggest that the lack of effects found in US teacher incentive pay experiments probably are in some part due to specific aspects of program design rather than failure of teachers to respond to incentives more generally.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18439.

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Date of creation: Oct 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18439

Note: CH ED LS PE
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  1. Leibowitz, Arleen & Tollison, Robert, 1980. "Free Riding, Shirking, and Team Production in Legal Partnerships," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(3), pages 380-94, July.
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  3. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  4. Brian A. Jacob & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Predictors of Teacher Cheating," NBER Working Papers 9413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bengt Holmstrom, 1982. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 324-340, Autumn.
  6. Roland G. Fryer, Jr & Steven D. Levitt & John List & Sally Sadoff, 2012. "Enhancing the Efficacy of Teacher Incentives through Loss Aversion: A Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 18237, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Karthik Muralidharan & Venkatesh Sundararaman, 2011. "Teacher Performance Pay: Experimental Evidence from India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(1), pages 39 - 77.
  8. Roland G. Fryer, 2011. "Teacher Incentives and Student Achievement: Evidence from New York City Public Schools," NBER Working Papers 16850, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. C. Kirabo Jackson, 2012. "Do College-Prep Programs Improve Long-Term Outcomes?," NBER Working Papers 17859, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. C. Kirabo Jackson, 2010. "A Little Now for a Lot Later: A Look at a Texas Advanced Placement Incentive Program," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(3).
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