Strategies to promote educator effectiveness (Best Evidence in Brief)

There is a new Best Evidence in Brief and this time I’m picking this study from their overview:

The Institute of Education Sciences has released a new evaluation brief that synthesizes findings from two impact studies conducted by the National Center for Education Evaluation (NCEE). One study focused on a strategy of providing educators with feedback on their performance for two years (performance feedback), and the other study focused on a strategy of providing educators with bonuses for four years based on their performance (pay-for-performance). Both strategies were supported by the Teacher Incentive Fund, which provided competitive grants to help states and districts implement a multi-strategy approach to enhancing educator effectiveness.
In each study, elementary and middle schools were randomly assigned to implement the strategy (the treatment group) or not (the control group). The performance feedback study included approximately 29,000 students and 1,000 teachers in grades 4 – 8, while the pay-for-performance study included approximately 38,000 students and 3,500 teachers in grades 3 – 8. Student outcomes were measured using end-of-year reading and math scores.
Key findings were as follows:
  • Providing educators with feedback on their performance for two years improved students’ math achievement after the first year with a difference in scores that corresponds to an effect size of 0.05, or about one month of learning. The cumulative effect after two years of implementation was similar in magnitude but not statistically significant. The effect on reading in both years was positive but not statistically significant.
  • Providing educators with bonuses based on their performance for four years improved students’ reading achievement after one, two, and three years of implementation and students’ math achievement after three years. After each of those periods of implementation, the cumulative effect amounted to about three to four weeks of learning. However, it was not entirely clear how this improvement was achieved. The impacts of pay-for-performance on classroom observation ratings did not appear to explain the impacts on student achievement, and in treatment schools, as many as 40% of teachers were unaware that they could earn a performance bonus.
The brief was prepared for NCEE by Andrew Wayne and Michael Garet of American Institutes for Research and Alison Wellington and Hanley Chiang of Mathematica Policy Research.

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