A meta-analysis published in the American Educational Research Journal looks at the association between teacher pay incentives and students’ test scores, and suggests that teacher pay incentives have the potential to improve student test scores in some contexts.
Lam D. Pham and colleagues analyzed effect sizes across 37 studies, 26 of which were conducted in the U.S. To be included in the meta-analysis, studies had to include a sample comprising K-12 teachers and students located in a district or state that had a teacher pay incentive program. Studies also had to use a randomized controlled trial with a business-as-usual comparison group, and report on student outcomes on standardized tests. The results were:
- Overall, among the U.S.-based studies, the effect of teacher pay incentives on student test scores was positive (ES= +0.043).
- However, this varied across subjects and settings. The average effect size of pay incentives on students’ math test scores (ES= +0.050) was larger than the effect on English test scores (ES= +0.029).
- Pay incentives for elementary school teachers were associated with larger effects (ES= +0.096) than middle school teachers (ES= +0.012).
In addition, larger pay incentives, and pay incentives that are based on multiple measures of teacher effectiveness, were associated with larger effect sizes.
Source (Open Access): Pham, L. D., Nguyen, T. D., & Springer, M. G. (2020). Teacher merit pay: A meta-analysis. American Educational Research Journal. Advanced online publication. DOI: 10.3102/0002831220905580