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Teacher incentives

  • Michael Kremer
  • Nauman Ilias
  • Paul Glewwe

Advocates of teacher incentive programs argue that they can strengthen weak incentives, while opponents argue they lead to teaching to the test.' We find evidence that existing teacher incentives in Kenya are indeed weak, with teachers absent 20% of the time. We then report on a randomized evaluation of a program that provided primary school teachers in rural Kenya with incentives based on students' test scores. Students in program schools had higher test scores, significantly so on at least some exams, during the time the program was in place. An examination of the channels through which this effect took place, however, provides little evidence of more teacher effort aimed at increasing long-run learning. Teacher attendance did not improve, homework assignment did not increase, and pedagogy did not change. There is, however, evidence that teachers increased effort to raise short-run test scores by conducting more test preparation sessions. While students in treatment schools scored higher than their counterparts in comparison schools during the life of the program, they did not retain these gains after the end of the program, consistent with the hypothesis that teachers focused on manipulating short-run scores. In order to discourage dropouts, students who did not test were assigned low scores. Program schools had the same dropout rate as comparison schools, but a higher percentage of students in program schools took the test.

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Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Natural Field Experiments with number 00257.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00257
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

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  1. Victor Lavy, 2002. "Evaluating the Effect of Teachers' Group Performance Incentives on Pupil Achievement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1286-1317, December.
  2. David N. Figlio & Joshua Winicki, 2002. "Food for Thought: The Effects of School Accountability Plans on School Nutrition," NBER Working Papers 9319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Steven G. Rivkin, 1998. "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement," NBER Working Papers 6691, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Geeta G. Kingdon & Francis Teal, 2002. "Does performance related pay for teachers improve student performance? Some evidence from India," CSAE Working Paper Series 2002-06, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  5. Levitt, Steven D., 2002. "Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Predictors of Teacher Cheating," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt2wj7v1j4, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  6. Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Steven G. Rivkin, 1999. "Do Higher Salaries Buy Better Teachers?," NBER Working Papers 7082, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Richards, Craig E. & Sheu, Tian Ming, 1992. "The South Carolina school incentive reward program: A policy analysis," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 71-86, March.
  8. Brian A. Jacob, 2002. "Accountability, Incentives and Behavior: The Impact of High-Stakes Testing in the Chicago Public Schools," NBER Working Papers 8968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Lavy, Victor, 2003. "Paying for Performance: The Effect of Teachers' Financial Incentives on Students' Scholastic Outcomes," CEPR Discussion Papers 3862, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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