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Individual Teacher Incentives, Student Achievement and Grade Inflation

  • Pedro Martins

How do teacher incentives affect student achievement? We contribute to this question by examining the effects of the recent introduction of teacher performance-related pay and tournaments in Portugal's public schools. Specifically, we draw on matched student-school panel data covering the population of secondary school national exams over seven years. We then conduct a difference-in-differences analysis based on two complementary control groups: public schools in two autonomous regions that were exposed to lighter versions of the reform than in the rest of the country; and private schools, which are also subject to the same national exams but whose teachers were not affected by the reform. Our results consistently indicate that the increased focus on individual teacher performance caused a significant decline in student achievement, particularly in terms of national exams. The triple-difference results also document a significant increase in grade inflation.

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Paper provided by Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE in its series CEE Discussion Papers with number 0112.

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Date of creation: Mar 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cep:ceedps:0112
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  1. Gadi Barlevy & Derek Neal, 2009. "Pay for percentile," Working Paper Series WP-09-09, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  2. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Daniel Aaronson & Lisa Barrow & William Sander, 2007. "Teachers and Student Achievement in the Chicago Public High Schools," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 95-135.
  4. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 2004. "Fairness and Incentives in a Multi-task Principal-Agent Model," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(3), pages 453-474, October.
  5. Atkinson, Adele & Burgess, Simon & Croxson, Bronwyn & Gregg, Paul & Propper, Carol & Slater, Helen & Wilson, Deborah, 2009. "Evaluating the impact of performance-related pay for teachers in England," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 251-261, June.
  6. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
  7. Imran Rasul & Iwan Barankay & Orana Bandiera, 2005. "Social preferences and the response to incentives: Evidence from personnel data," Natural Field Experiments 00212, The Field Experiments Website.
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