February 27, 2018

Francesca López, (520) 621-0306, falopez@email.arizona.edu
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 203-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

Promising pay-for-performance evaluation suffers problematic issues in analyses, review finds

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Feb. 27, 2018) — The final report from a four-year evaluation of 2010 Teacher Incentive Fund grant recipients was released late in 2017. The evaluation project sought to determine whether pay-for-performance (PFP) bonuses for teachers and principals resulted in improved student achievement. An academic review of the report released today finds that the report lacks utility for those seeking to learn from the implementation of PFP.

Francesca López, an associate professor of educational policy studies at the University of Arizona, reviewed the report, Evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund: Final Report on Implementation and Impact of Pay-for-Performance Across Four Years, for the Think Twice think tank review project. Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), is funded in part by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Commissioned by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and produced by Mathematica Policy Research (MPR), the report was part of a seven-year $13.9 million study. The study was required as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The final report found that test scores in reading and math increased slightly among the 2010 TIF recipients. It also found that the incentives were associated with higher classroom observation ratings, but the report found no association between test scores and observation ratings. Findings also indicated that the incentives had no effect on filling teacher vacancies.

Despite the potentially interesting findings on the varied impact of the TIF program recipients, López in her review found several problematic issues with the analyses in the report. Because the report used non-comparable sites and incorporated a "polyglot of outcome measures of questionable validity," she finds the report is of little use to policymakers seeking to learn from implementation of TIF.

López writes, "Although several thorough analyses are presented, the data do not support the report's suggestion that PFP holds promise to address achievement disparities."

Find the review on the web:

Find the original MPR evaluation here:

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

You can also find the review on the NEPC website:

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