Changes implemented by school districts through federal Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) grants had small, positive impacts on students’ reading and math achievement, according to a new evaluation report. The report also finds that implementation was similar across the three years, but districts reported fewer implementation challenges in the third year of the grant.
The Institute of Education Sciences released the third of four planned evaluation reports on the TIF grants, which were awarded in 2010 to support performance-based compensation systems for teachers and principals in high-need schools. The report, conducted by IES’ National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), provides basic implementation information for all 2010 TIF grantees. It also provides more in-depth implementation and impact information for 10 evaluation districts that agreed to participate in a random assignment study.
In the recent reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), TIF was renamed the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program.
The report’s main findings among all 2010 TIF districts are:
• In the third year of the grant, most districts (88 percent) implemented at least 3 of the 4 required components for teachers. This was similar to findings of the previous two years; and
• By the third year, districts reported fewer challenges with implementation, with no more than one-fifth of TIF districts reporting any major challenges.
The main findings among the 10 evaluation districts participating in the impact study are:
• After three years of TIF implementation, average student achievement remained 1 to 2 percentile points higher in schools that offered pay-for-performance bonuses than in schools that did not. This difference was equivalent to a gain of about four additional weeks of learning;
• Teachers’ understanding of performance measures continued to improve, but only about 60 percent of teachers correctly reported that they were eligible for a performance bonus; and
• Teachers believed that the maximum bonus they could earn was smaller than the actual maximum bonus that the districts awarded, a finding similar to previous years.