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NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Hugh Macartney

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December 2015Incentive Design in Education: An Empirical Analysis
with Robert McMillan, Uros Petronijevic: w21835
While incentive schemes to elicit greater effort in organizations are widespread, the incentive strength-effort mapping is difficult to ascertain in practice, hindering incentive design. We propose a new semi-parametric method for uncovering this relationship in an education context, using exogenous incentive variation and rich administrative data. The estimated effort response forms the basis of a counterfactual approach tracing the effects of various accountability systems on the full distribution of scores. We show higher average performance comes with greater score dispersion for a given accountability scheme, and that incentive designs not yet enacted can improve performance further, relevant to education reform.
February 2014The Dynamic Effects of Educational Accountability
w19915
This paper provides the first evidence that value-added education accountability schemes induce dynamic distortions. Extending earlier dynamic moral hazard models, I propose a new test for ratchet effects, showing that classroom inputs are distorted less when schools face a shorter horizon over which they can influence student performance. I then exploit grade span variation using rich educational data to credibly identify the extent of dynamic gaming, finding compelling evidence of ratchet effects based on a triple-differences approach. Further analysis indicates that these effects are driven primarily by effort distortions, with teacher reallocations playing a secondary role.

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