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July 25, 2019 Thursday 03:19:06 PM IST

Pay Teachers More If Students Learn More

Photo by David Mark

A new study done by an economist at University of California, Riverside shows that teacher incentive programs can lead to better performance of children and also be cost-effeictive. 
The study was done by Ozkan Eren, an associate professor Economics at UC Riverside which examined a hybrid teacher incentive program that combines individual and group incentives called the Teacher Advancement Program or Tap. Under this scheme, clusters of less experienced teachers meet daily with highly skilled teachers to learn new instructional strategies and receive individual coaching. Multiple evaluations are carried out and at the end of the school year, the additional compensation is based on their teaching performance as well as their student's performance. 
Eren examined student data of 40 schools in state of Louisiana that implemented TAP from 2005-11. It was found that program benefits exceeded costs. The total average cost of TAP was approximately $350 to 400 per student. 
Eren used a standard formula to estimate future earnings based on the assumption that only a quarter of the test score gain reflects real learning and found that TAP could result in a rise in potential earnings of about $945,000 per school year for math. This was cost-effective even if only math test scores improved. 
The study concluded that a hybrid structure involving both individual and group incentives can have good results. Multiple and understandable performance metrics, combined with regular feedback to teachers, may also make incentive programs more effective. Finally, rewards should be strong enough to entice teachers to adjust their teaching practices.