NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Effect of Performance-Based Incentives on Educational Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment

Steven D. Levitt, John A. List, Sally Sadoff

NBER Working Paper No. 22107
Issued in March 2016
NBER Program(s):CH, ED

We test the effect of performance-based incentives on educational achievement in a low-performing school district using a randomized field experiment. High school freshmen were provided monthly financial incentives for meeting an achievement standard based on multiple measures of performance including attendance, behavior, grades and standardized test scores. Within the design, we compare the effectiveness of varying the recipient of the reward (students or parents) and the incentive structure (fixed rate or lottery). While the overall effects of the incentives are modest, the program has a large and significant impact among students on the threshold of meeting the achievement standard. These students continue to outperform their control group peers a year after the financial incentives end. However, the program effects fade in longer term follow up, highlighting the importance of longer term tracking of incentive programs.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.

E-mail:

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22107

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Levitt, List, Neckermann, and Sadoff w18165 The Behavioralist Goes to School: Leveraging Behavioral Economics to Improve Educational Performance
Heckman and Corbin w22339 Capabilities and Skills
Fryer, Levitt, List, and Sadoff w18237 Enhancing the Efficacy of Teacher Incentives through Loss Aversion: A Field Experiment
Fryer w15898 Financial Incentives and Student Achievement: Evidence from Randomized Trials
Fryer, Levitt, and List w21477 Parental Incentives and Early Childhood Achievement: A Field Experiment in Chicago Heights
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us