Participation in a School Incentive Programme in Karnataka
Development education policy has recently focused on school-based recognition and conditional cash transfer programs to improve accountability and incentives of school employees and committees. The Learning Guarantee Programme in Karnataka, India, set a goal of improving achievement in government schools by providing direct cash incentives to schools that achieve at certain high levels. This study examines the differences between schools that self-selected into the incentive program and those that did not. We find no significant differences in resources and characteristics; however, we do find significant differences in test scores prior to selection into the program. These findings provide insight into how incentive-based programs that focus on levels (rather than changes) of achievement can exacerbate inequality in education. In addition, our findings reinforce the need for randomized evaluations of incentive programs, since the participation decision is correlated with likelihood to succeed and difficult to predict.
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