Incentives, Selection, and Teacher Performance: Evidence from IMPACT
Teachers in the United States are compensated largely on the basis of fixed schedules that reward experience and credentials. However, there is a growing interest in whether performance-based incentives based on rigorous teacher evaluations can improve teacher retention and performance. The evidence available to date has been mixed at best. This study presents novel evidence on this topic based on IMPACT, the controversial teacher-evaluation system introduced in the District of Columbia Public Schools by then-Chancellor Michelle Rhee. IMPACT implemented uniquely high-powered incentives linked to multiple measures of teacher performance (i.e., several structured observational measures as well as test performance). We present regression-discontinuity (RD) estimates that compare the retention and performance outcomes among low-performing teachers whose ratings placed them near the threshold that implied a strong dismissal threat. We also compare outcomes among high-performing teachers whose rating placed them near a threshold that implied an unusually large financial incentive. Our RD results indicate that dismissal threats increased the voluntary attrition of low-performing teachers by 11 percentage points (i.e., more than 50 percent) and improved the performance of teachers who remained by 0.27 of a teacher-level standard deviation. We also find evidence that financial incentives further improved the performance of high-performing teachers (effect size = 0.24).
We received exceptional research assistance from Mindy Adnot and Veronica Katz at the University of Virginia. We are grateful to the District of Columbia Public Schools for the data employed in this paper and to Scott Thompson, Kim Levengood and Austin Zentz of DCPS for addressing our questions regarding the data and IMPACT. We received financial support for this research from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the National Center for the Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER). CALDER is supported by IES Grant R305A060018. The views expressed in the paper are solely those of the authors and may not reflect those of the funders. Any errors are attributable to the authors. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
- ...dismissal threats increased the voluntary attrition of low-performing teachers and improved the performance of those who decided to...
Thomas S. Dee & James Wyckoff, 2015. "Incentives, Selection, and Teacher Performance: Evidence from IMPACT," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 34(2), pages 267-297, 03. citation courtesy of