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Does merit pay reward good teachers? Evidence from a randomized experiment

  • Thomas S. Dee

    (Department of Economics, Swarthmore College)

  • Benjamin J. Keys

    (Department of Economics, University of Michigan)

A common criticism of merit-pay plans is that they fail to systematically target rewards to the most effective teachers. This study presents new evidence on this issue by evaluating data from Tennessee's Career Ladder Evaluation System and the Project STAR class-size experiment. Because the students and teachers participating in the experiment were randomly assigned, inferences about the relative quality of teachers certified by the career ladder should be unbiased. The results indicate that Tennessee's career ladder had mixed success in rewarding teachers who increased student achievement. Assignment to career-ladder teachers increased mathematics scores by roughly 3 percentile points but generally had smaller and statistically insignificant effects on reading scores. © 2004 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Volume (Year): 23 (2004)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 471-488

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Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:23:y:2004:i:3:p:471-488
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  1. Cooper, Samuel T. & Cohn, Elchanan, 1997. "Estimation of a frontier production function for the South Carolina educational process," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 313-327, June.
  2. Dale Ballou & Michael Podgursky, 1996. "Teacher Pay and Teacher Quality," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number tptq, April.
  3. Alan Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," Working Papers 758, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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