Rewarding teachers with bonus pay does not translate into higher student test scores among their students, according to a new study released Tuesday by Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development.
The findings — the product of a project called POINT, or The Project on Incentives in Teaching — stem from a three-year study in which Vanderbilt researchers analyzed the effect of performance-based pay on middle-school Metro math teachers. The think tank RAND Corp. partnered in the report.
Under the study, teachers in a treatment group were given bonuses based improvements in their students’ scores on annual TCAP tests. In all, the initiative dished out almost $1.3 million in bonuses, with the maximum annual bonus totaling $15,000.
The study compared those teachers to peers in a control group who were not given bonuses. Teachers were evaluated based on historical performance benchmarks for Metro teachers, not with one another.
“We tested the most basic and foundational question related to performance incentives — Does bonus pay alone improve student outcomes? –– and we found that it does not,” Matthew Springer, executive director of the National Center on Performance Incentives, said in a written statement.
The report could prove to be a key document as education leaders in Nashville and the state explore whether to adopt a performance-based pay system.
More than one year ago, Director of Schools Jesse Register and Mayor Karl Dean held a summit to discuss the topic of performance-based pay. In August, they rolled out a new called ASSET, which seeks to transform the way Metro schools recruit, develop and retain teachers. The new plan lacks a teacher-pay component.