Panel Paper: Transfer Incentives for High-Performing Teachers: Results From a Multisite Randomized Experiment

Friday, November 8, 2013 : 8:20 AM
Mayfair Court (Westin Georgetown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Julie Bruch, Mathematica Policy Research
There is growing concern that the nation’s most effective teachers are not working in the schools with the most disadvantaged students. One strategy that has not been studied in sufficient detail is the use of monetary incentives to recruit teachers who have demonstrated success in raising student test scores (measured by “value added”) to teach in low-achieving schools. This strategy has the potential to redistribute some of the highest-performing teachers in a district from higher-achieving schools to lower-achieving schools. The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) contracted with Mathematica Policy Research to study the effectiveness of an intervention based on this strategy. The intervention, known as the Talent Transfer Initiative (TTI), offered $20,000 to the highest-performing teachers in tested grades and subjects within each district who agreed to transfer into one of the lowest-achieving schools in their district and stay for at least two years. The authors use causal analysis to estimate the impact of TTI. The causal analysis relies on an experimental design in which random assignment was used to form equivalent groups of classrooms with and without the opportunity to hire transfer teachers to compare outcomes after one and two years. The units assigned are teacher teams, which are defined as all teachers in a specific grade and subject. Ten large, economically diverse districts from across the country participated in the study. Participating teacher teams ranged from 3rd grade through 8th grade; 85 teams were assigned to participate in the intervention, and 80 teams were assigned to the control group. Using teacher and principal surveys and administrative records provided by each school district, the evaluation addresses several questions related to the impact of such a policy on participating schools, including how long teachers stay in their new schools and whether they improve student achievement in those schools.