incentive programs, including well-known studies of exit exams (e.g., Jacob, 2001) and teacher performance pay (e.g., Figlio and Kenny, 2007); and
• studies that focus on contrasting results for students, teachers, or schools that are immediately above or below the threshold for receiving the consequences of the incentive programs,2 including well-known studies of exit exams (e.g., Martorell, 2004; Papay et al., 2010; Reardon et al., 2010) and school incentives (e.g., Ladd and Lauen, 2009; Reback, 2008; Rouse et al., 2007).
Finally, we exclude programs using incentives that are too new to have meaningful results (e.g., Kemple, 2011; Springer and Winters, 2009).3 Particularly in the area of performance pay for teachers, there has been strong recent interest in developing new incentive programs, and we expect these will make important additions to the research base in the near future.4
The features related to the structure of the incentive programs that we selected for our analysis are derived from four of the five key elements that should be considered in designing incentive programs (see Chapter 2).
Target Our analysis primarily included studies with incentives that were given to schools, teachers, or students, though one case provides an example of incentives given to both students and parents. We coded performance pay programs for teachers as being received by teachers
2Such regression discontinuity studies provide interesting causal information about the effect of being above or below the threshold, but they do not provide information about the overall effect of implementing an incentives program.
3New York City has recently implemented a performance pay program for teachers in about 200 schools using random assignment of eligible schools (see Springer and Winters, 2009). An initial analysis showed small and negative effects of the program on the tests linked to the incentives, but none of the effects was statistically significant, and the initial analysis used tests that were given less than 3 months after the program was instituted. In addition, New York City’s reform effort since mayoral control of the schools began in 2002 includes a schoolwide performance bonus plan that began in the 2007-2008 school year. Initial analysis suggests that scores on the tests attached to the incentives increased faster during the reform period than occurred in comparable urban districts in New York (Kemple, 2011).