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Projects on Incentives in Teaching or POINT
National Center on Performance Incentives
September 21, 2010

The results of a recently released three-year study indicate that merit pay does not work.

In an effort to explore the impact of performance incentives in education, the National Center on Performance Incentives (NCPI) partnered with the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) to conduct the Project on Incentives in Teaching, or POINT. The study examines the effects on student outcomes of paying eligible teachers bonuses of up to $15,000 per year on the basis of student test-score gains on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP).

POINT was a three-year study from 2006-07 through 2008-09, in which middle school mathematics teachers voluntarily participated in a controlled experiment to assess the effect of financial rewards for teachers whose students showed unusually large gains on standardized tests. The experiment was intended to test the notion that rewarding teachers for improved scores would cause scores to rise. POINT was focused on the notion that a significant problem in American education is the absence of appropriate incentives, and that correcting the incentive structure would, in and of itself, constitute an effective intervention that improved student outcomes.

The results did not confirm this hypothesis. While the general trend in middle school mathematics performance was upward over the period of the project, students of teachers randomly assigned to the treatment group (eligible for bonuses) did not outperform students whose teachers were assigned to the control group (not eligible for bonuses).



July 6, 2010 – Education Research Report
Impact Assessment of Denver’s ProComp

This is the first of two reports detailing possible effects of Denver’s ProComp on student achievement, educator attitudes and behaviors, and teacher retention. This first report describes outcomes that may be associated with ProComp at the program level; a subsequent report (to be released in September, 2010) describes outcomes at a finer level of granularity to better understand differential outcomes of the program’s various elements for educators of various backgrounds.



July 6, 2010 – New York Times
Merit Pay and Test Tampering

Investigations in Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, Virginia and elsewhere this year have pointed to cheating by educators. Experts say the phenomenon is increasing as the stakes over standardized testing ratchet higher — including, most recently, taking student progress on tests into consideration in teachers’ performance reviews and determining pay.



Teachers, Performance Pay, and Accountability
What Education Should Learn from Other Sectors
May 14, 2010

Some school policymakers are promoting a new idea for improving the schools: merit pay plans that would tie teachers’ pay to the scores their students earn on standardized math and reading tests. Advocates of this approach base their support on two assumptions: first, that merit pay is long-established and widespread in the private sector, and second, that students’ test scores are a reliable way to gauge how well teachers are doing their jobs. Both assumptions, according to a new research report issued today by the Economic Policy Institute, are faulty.

Economic Policy Institute Report



January 18, 2010 – Pennsylvania State Education Association 
Pennsylvania Union Makes Pay Recommendations

The Pennsylvania State Education Association has released its recommendations for teacher pay systems designed to attract and retain education professionals.  “20/20 Vision for the Future” provides four recommends that are based on decades of research investigating strategies that improve educational outcomes and how compensation systems align with successful educational strategies.


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