Rewarding Teachers – Will it work?

26 March 2011


Yesterday I posted about an article in the Chicago Tribune reporting that Florida had finalised their plan to modernise teaching.  There were a range of changes about to be rolled out – one of them being that teachers were to be rewarded based on how much their students learn.

The idea of providing financial incentives for teachers to increase student performance is an increasingly popular education policy around the world but it would appear that the evidence shows that this strategy simply won’t achieve the desired outcomes. At best the  jury is still out as to whether or not this approach to improving student outcomes actually works, however I think most people have made up their mind.  (I have previously written about the potential problems of rewarding students.  You can see those posts here and here).

I was interested to see a report release by the National Bureau of Economic Research about a study that was conducted as a randomized trial involving over two hundred public schools in New York City.  The report found that:

There is “No evidence that teacher incentives increase student performance, attendance, or graduation, nor do I find any evidence that the incentives change student or teacher behaviour. If anything, teacher incentives may decrease student achievement, especially in larger schools.”

When you look at this report in the light of the changes that have just been passed as legislation in Florida it makes you wonder who is making these decisions and where are they getting their information.

Do you think rewarding teachers improves student outcomes?

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