Cash incentives are a possible solution to keeping highly effective teachers in low-performing schools, according to a new study that evaluated the state of Tennessee’s recent implementation of a $5,000 retention bonus program.
In total, the state distributed more than $2.1 million in $5,000 retention bonuses to 361 highly effective teachers, who agreed to stay at a low-performing school during the 2013-14 school year.
“To evaluate the program, we compared the retention rates of teachers who were just eligible for the bonus to those teachers who just missed being eligible for the bonus,” says Matthew Springer, assistant professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development and director of the Tennessee Consortium on Research, Evaluation, and Development.
“We found that these performance incentives increase the likelihood of retention of top performing teachers by as much as 23 percent.”
BREAKING THE CYCLE
Schools with high concentrations of poverty or racial minorities are less likely to retain highly effective teachers; and when these teachers move on, much less effective teachers typically replace them. Ending that cycle could result in increased student achievement—and future earning potential, he says.
“We found that for every teacher that is retained as a result of the bonus, students taught by that teacher, rather than the likely replacement teacher, experience an increase in teacher effectiveness of 46 percentile points,” he says.
“That is the equivalent of an average teacher elevating their performance to the 96th percentile.”
The bonus program is financially sustainable for the state, he adds. “Along with savings from lowered turnover or replacement costs, we found that the bonus program could pay for itself in the long run when you consider the additional tax revenue from students’ predicted increased earnings if only 10 percent of bonus recipients continued teaching, and taught an average of 30 students for one year,” Springer says.
Retention of effective teachers has more benefits than selective firings, Springer says in his working paper, which is available through the Tennessee Consortium on Research, Evaluation, and Development.
“In contrast to programs that try to improve teacher quality through termination of ineffective teachers, retention bonuses for effective teachers have the added benefit of creating greater stability, and leadership within a struggling school,” he says.
《Effective teacher Retention Bonuses: Evidence from Tennessee》, Published on Journal 《Tennessee Consortium on Research Evalluation & Development》in June 25, 2014.