Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Teacher Incentive Fund Impacts in Virginia

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 9:30 AM
Tequesta (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Allison Atteberry, University of Colorado - Boulder and James Wyckoff, University of Virginia
A large urban Virginia district has engaged in a pay-for-performance teacher incentive policy awarded through the Teacher Inventive Fund (TIF) Grant competition. The policy provides a significant monetary award to teachers in eligible schools that qualify to receive the performance-based compensation. We have 3 years of pre-treatment data, and 5 years of post-treatment data. In this district, 8 of the 23 high-needs schools were identified to participate in the TIF program. Because the 5-year study will conclude in Spring 2015, we can present in November 2015 the final results on the impact of the TIF program on student achievement and teacher retention. This will include new analysis related to questions of strategicteacher retention (i.e., is there any evidence that stronger teachers are more attracted to work in TIF schools). We answer these questions using a traditional comparative interrupted time series approach in which non-treated—but demographically similar—school serve as a counterfactual.

In addition, for the first time, we have student-level data on one main element of the pay-for-performance system: As a part of the intervention, teachers were required to identify specific achievement test learning goals for each student in their classroom in the fall of every school year. At the end of each school year, these learning targets were compared to the actual test scores for each teacher, and bonuses were awarded to teachers in proportion to the percentage of his/her students who met the targets. This is a relatively novel policy design that is being considered in many districts across the U.S. as policy-makers look for ways to link student achievement to teacher pay. That said, there are reasons to be believe that design details of these policies will be crucial to their success. Further, there may be challenges associated with having teachers set the criteria by which their own success will be evaluated. We descriptively examine the nature of the learning objectives teachers set for their students, how those vary across student- and teacher-characteristics, and finally the rates at which students meet these learning objectives. These findings—embedded within the presentation of the overall effects of the intervention on student and teacher outcomes—may prove helpful as other districts consider similar approaches to merit pay systems