Sunday, April 18, 2010

Incentives and Achievement

"A multicity experiment to test the effect of paying students for performance succeeded in increasing achievement when the payments were tied to specific behaviors related to learning, such as reading books, but not when the awards depended directly on test scores, new findings show."
“Providing incentives for achievement-test scores has no effect on any form of achievement we can measure,” wrote Harvard University economist Roland G. Fryer in a working paper published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research."
I can't say that I am surprised by this. Tests seem to be out of the student's control and out of mind quickly. The feedback on tests is too late to be tied to the achievement, while the monetary payoff for reading and such is much more direct and seemingly more in the control of the student.

It may also be an additional explanation why high school students don't score as well on these tests as might be expected from all the other measures of their ability - the reward payoff is delayed so far that the effort simply isn't put into the test. NECAP tests were in November, scores are returned in March/April and school AYP determinations are delayed until May.

One more nail in the coffin of "Merit Pay Should be Based on Test Scores."

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