From the Field

Research Notes: Teacher Incentives Lead to Better Student Outcomes

A program that offered pay incentives to teachers for performance led to better outcomes for their students in school and in early adulthood, a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research shows.

The authors—Sarah Cohodes of Columbia University; Ozkan Eren of University of California, Riverside; and Orgul Ozturk of the University of South Carolina—examined data from high-needs schools that used South Carolina’s Teacher Advancement Program (TAP), which includes incentive pay, professional development, the potential for career advancement, observations of teacher performance, and test-score based accountability.

The researchers estimate that 8th grade students exposed to the TAP program were 3 to 4 percentage points more likely to still be in school at 12th grade. There was also a 1.4 percentage point drop in likelihood of being arrested of a felony, and a 2.7 percentage point drop in the odds of being reliant on social welfare programs as a young adult.

The authors add to existing scholarship on the value of pay incentives for teachers and should increase the likelihood that other states will attempt to replicate this program.

Read the Research

Teacher Performance Pay, Coaching, and Long-Run Student Outcomes

March 2023

Sarah Cohodes, Ozkan Eren, and Orgul Ozturk