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Paying to Learn: The Effect of Financial Incentives on Elementary School Test Scores

  • Eric P. Bettinger

    (Stanford University)

Policymakers and academics are increasingly interested in applying financial incentives to individuals in education. This paper presents evidence from a pay-for-performance program taking place in Coshocton, Ohio. Since 2004, Coshocton has provided cash payments to students in grades 3 through 6 for successful completion of their standardized testing. Coshocton determined eligibility for the program using randomization. Using this randomization, this paper identifies the effects of the program on students' academic behavior. We find that math scores improved about 0.15 standard deviations but that reading, social science, and science test scores did not improve. © 2012 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 94 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 686-698

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:94:y:2012:i:3:p:686-698
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  1. Michael Kremer & Edward Miguel & Rebecca Thornton, 2009. "Incentives to Learn," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(3), pages 437-456, August.
  2. Roland G. Fryer, Jr, 2010. "Financial Incentives and Student Achievement: Evidence from Randomized Trials," NBER Working Papers 15898, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Joshua Angrist & Victor Lavy, 2009. "The Effects of High Stakes High School Achievement Awards: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1384-1414, September.
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