Washington: Teacher incentive programmes are becoming popular, however, nobody knows for sure if such programmes have a positive impact on student achievement.
According to a new study, if properly designed, teacher incentive programmes can improve student achievement in some subjects and be cost-effective.
The study was published in the ‘Journal of Policy Analysis and Management’.
Studies of existing and experimental teacher incentive programmes have shown mixed results, raising student test scores in some cases but not in others. Researchers think the discrepancy has to do with how programmes are designed.
Programs that reward teachers as a group do not improve student achievement. However, the programmes that compensate teachers individually also have little to no effect on student achievement.
Ozkan Eren, an associate professor of economics at UC Riverside, examined a hybrid teacher incentive programme that combines individual and group incentives called the Teacher Advancement Programmes, or TAP.
Eren examined data obtained from the state of Louisiana for 40 schools that implemented TAP from 2005-11.
He found no improvement in math test scores the first year, but steady and dramatic improvement by the third year.
Social studies saw similar results, although statistically insignificant test score improvement while English and science showed no improvement.
He found evidence that other factors, such as changes in the composition of the teaching staff, were not responsible for the improvement. A survey of teachers also indicated that many had changed their teaching practices as a result of the programme, contributing to its success.
The study concluded that a hybrid structure involving both individual and group incentives can have good results. Multiple and understandable performance metrics, combined with regular feedback to teachers, may also make incentive programmes more effective. Finally, rewards should be strong enough to entice teachers to adjust their teaching practices.