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Incentives, Selection, and Teacher Performance: Evidence from IMPACT

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  • Thomas S. Dee
  • James Wyckoff

Abstract

Teachers in the United States are compensated largely on the basis of fixed schedules that reward experience and credentials. However, there is a growing interest in whether performance‐based incentives based on rigorous teacher evaluations can improve teacher retention and performance. The evidence available to date has been mixed at best. This study presents novel evidence on this topic based on IMPACT, the controversial teacher‐evaluation system introduced in the District of Columbia Public Schools by then‐Chancellor Michelle Rhee. IMPACT implemented uniquely high‐powered incentives linked to multiple measures of teacher performance (i.e., several structured observational measures as well as test performance). We present regression‐discontinuity (RD) estimates that compare the retention and performance outcomes among low‐performing teachers whose ratings placed them near the threshold that implied a strong dismissal threat. We also compare outcomes among high‐performing teachers whose rating placed them near a threshold that implied an unusually large financial incentive. Our RD results indicate that dismissal threats increased the voluntary attrition of low‐performing teachers by 11 percentage points (i.e., more than 50 percent) and improved the performance of teachers who remained by 0.27 of a teacher‐level standard deviation. We also find evidence that financial incentives further improved the performance of high‐performing teachers (effect size = 0.24).

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas S. Dee & James Wyckoff, 2015. "Incentives, Selection, and Teacher Performance: Evidence from IMPACT," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 34(2), pages 267-297, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:34:y:2015:i:2:p:267-297
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/pam.21818
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Cory Koedel & Jiaxi Li, 2016. "The Efficiency Implications Of Using Proportional Evaluations To Shape The Teaching Workforce," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(1), pages 47-62, January.
    2. Dan Goldhaber & Cyrus Grout & Nick Huntington-Klein, 2017. "Screen Twice, Cut Once: Assessing the Predictive Validity of Applicant Selection Tools," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 12(2), pages 197-223, Spring.
    3. Jeffrey Max & Jill Constantine & Alison Wellington & Kristin Hallgren & Steven Glazerman & Hanley Chiang & Cecilia Speroni, 2014. "Evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund: Implementation and Early Impacts of Pay-for-Performance After One Year," Mathematica Policy Research Reports a8016bcc5b4248c2a8e583ee5, Mathematica Policy Research.
    4. Matthew P. Steinberg & Morgaen L. Donaldson, 2016. "The New Educational Accountability: Understanding the Landscape of Teacher Evaluation in the Post-NCLB Era," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 11(3), pages 340-359, Summer.
    5. Brehm, Margaret & Imberman, Scott A. & Lovenheim, Michael F., 2017. "Achievement effects of individual performance incentives in a teacher merit pay tournament," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 133-150.
    6. Dongwoo Kim & Cory Koedel & Shawn Ni & Michael Podgursky & Weiwei Wu, 2016. "Pensions and Late-Career Teacher Retention," Working Papers 2016-08, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised Jul 2017.
    7. Hanley Chiang & Cecilia Speroni & Mariesa Herrmann & Kristin Hallgren & Paul Burkander & Alison Wellington, "undated". "Evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund: Final Report on Implementation and Impacts of Pay-for-Performance Across Four Years," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 568955b06a2a4b11b954dded8, Mathematica Policy Research.
    8. David Blazar & Matthew A. Kraft, 2015. "Teacher and Teaching Effects on Students' Academic Behaviors and Mindsets," Mathematica Policy Research Reports c1c4216bd08f408fb6bdf16a3, Mathematica Policy Research.
    9. Cullen Julie Berry & Cory Koedel & Eric Parsons, 2016. "The Compositional Effect of Rigorous Teacher Evaluation on Workforce Quality," CESifo Working Paper Series 6185, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Scott A. Imberman, 2015. "How effective are financial incentives for teachers?," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 158-158, June.
    11. Alison Wellington & Hanley Chiang & Kristin Heallgren & Cecilia Speroni & Mariesa Herrmann & Paul Burkander, "undated". "Evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund: Implementation and Impacts of Pay-for-Performance After Three Years (Final Report)," Mathematica Policy Research Reports c01a81e283374843b1d4b39ce, Mathematica Policy Research.
    12. John P. Papay & Eric S. Taylor & John H. Tyler & Mary Laski, 2016. "Learning Job Skills from Colleagues at Work: Evidence from a Field Experiment Using Teacher Performance Data," NBER Working Papers 21986, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Brian P. Gill & Jennifer S. Lerner & Paul Meosky, "undated". "Re-Imagining Accountability in K-12 Education: A Behavioral Science Perspective," Mathematica Policy Research Reports d0c19d0709b641259fe391b2e, Mathematica Policy Research.
    14. Cory Koedel & Jiaxi Li & Matthew G. Springer & Li Tan, 2016. "The Impact of Performance Ratings on Job Satisfaction for Public School Teachers," Working Papers 1617, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
    15. repec:kap:jproda:v:49:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11123-017-0517-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Hanley Chiang & Alison Wellington & Kristin Hallgren & Cecilia Speroni & Mariesa Herrmann & Steven Glazerman & Jill Constantine, 2015. "Evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund: Implementation and Impacts of Pay-for-Performance After Two Years," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 4f123c78ddb644079b88d2bb4, Mathematica Policy Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets

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