New twist on bonuses for teachers: Give the money at the start of the school year—but yank it back if students underperform.
In nine kindergarten-through eighth-grade schools in Chicago Heights, Ill., 150 teachers took part in the experiment. Some teachers got $4,000 in a lump sum at the start of the school year, but they were told they’d lose some or all of the money if their students didn’t improve sufficiently. Others were simply offered a traditional bonus, also $4,000 payable at year’s end.
The standard bonuses had little to no effect, but students taught by teachers who got the advance bonus improved their relative standing on a math best by 6.8 to 9.6 percentile points—an effect similar to that of cutting class size by a third.
Findings from: “Enhancing the Efficacy of Teacher Incentives Through Loss Aversion: A Field Experiment”