NEPC Review: Evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund: Final Report on Implementation and Impact of Pay-for-Performance Across Four Years (Institute of Education Sciences, December 2017)
This review examines a report evaluating four years of implementation of the 2010 Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) to determine whether pay-for-performance (PFP) bonuses to teachers and principals improve student achievement. The report notes that the goal of PFP is to motivate improved educator performance and to attract and retain more effective teachers, thereby increasing student achievement. The report found that PFP marginally increased student test scores in reading and math by year two and that it was associated with slightly higher classroom observation ratings; it also found that classroom observation ratings were not associated with student test scores and that PFP had no effect on filling teacher vacancies. Problematic issues in the report involve combining non-comparable sites, employing different outcome measures, and generating a misleading cost-effectiveness analysis. Although several thorough analyses are presented, the data do not support the report’s suggestion that PFP holds promise to address achievement disparities. Overall, because of the report’s incorporation of a polyglot of outcome measures of questionable validity, this review finds that the report lacks utility for policymakers.