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A Big Apple for Educators: New York City's Experiment with Schoolwide Performance Bonuses

A Big Apple for Educators: New York City's Experiment with Schoolwide Performance Bonuses: Final Evaluation Report

Julie A. Marsh
Matthew G. Springer
Daniel F. McCaffrey
Kun Yuan
Scott Epstein
Julia Koppich
Nidhi Kalra
Catherine DiMartino
Art (Xiao) Peng
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    A Big Apple for Educators: New York City's Experiment with Schoolwide Performance Bonuses
    Book Description:

    For three school years, from 2007 to 2010, about 200 high-needs New York City public schools participated in the Schoolwide Performance Bonus Program, whose broad objective was to improve student performance through school-based financial incentives. An independent analysis of test scores, surveys, and interviews found that the program did not improve student achievement, perhaps because it did not motivate change in educator behavior.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-5254-4
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  6. Executive Summary
    (pp. xvii-xxxii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxxiii-xxxiv)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxxv-xxxvi)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    In the 2007–2008 school year, the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) implemented a pay-for-performance program called the Schoolwide Performance Bonus Program (SPBP). In accordance with the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that established the SPBP and called for an independent evaluation, NYCDOE and UFT contracted with the RAND Corporation (in partnership with the National Center on Performance Incentives [NCPI] and Vanderbilt University) to evaluate the implementation and effects of this program. The evaluation study was funded by the Fund for Public Schools and NCPI, which is funded by the U.S. Department...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Background on Pay-for-Performance Programs and the New York City SPBP
    (pp. 5-48)

    This chapter provides background on performance incentive programs and past research, followed by detailed information about the New York City SPBP.

    Pay-for-performance programs and policies tie employee compensation to performance on the job and have long been common in the commercial sector as a means of providing incentives and rewards to meet specific production targets or goals. In recent years, pay-for-performance has also received substantial attention as an option for meeting goals in the public sector.

    Although most school districts continue to tie educator pay to years of service and education level, many states, districts, and schools in recent years...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Research Methods
    (pp. 49-82)

    In this chapter, we describe the research questions and conceptual framework guiding our research, along with the methodology we used to collect and analyze data on the implementation and effects of SPBP. For our analyses on the tests of the program effects on teacher and student outcomes we provide an overview of the methods and data in this chapter, and provide full details in the relevant chapters and appendices.

    The evaluation was designed to answer the following questions:¹

    1. How was the program implemented?

    a. What was the level of awareness of, support for, and attitudes about the program?


  12. CHAPTER FOUR Implementation of the Schoolwide Performance Bonus Program: Attitudes About and Understanding of the Program
    (pp. 83-122)

    With any program, ultimate success is often influenced by the level of support for and understanding of the particular program and its main components among individuals targeted by or who are expected to implement the program. As discussed in Chapter Two, theory and research on pay-for-performance programs indicate that how individuals respond to bonus incentives and the extent to which the incentives provide motivational effects are likely to be influenced by the awareness and support for the program’s purposes and components, the perceived fairness of the methods for awarding bonuses, the perceived value of the bonus, beliefs about whether individual...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Implementation of the Schoolwide Performance Bonus Program: Compensation Committee Process and Distribution Plans
    (pp. 123-160)

    This chapter explores the implementation of one of the defining features of the New York City SPBP: the CC. As noted in Chapter Two, NYCDOE and UFT believed the CC would ensure that decisions about allocating bonus awards among staff would be school-based, allowing each school committee to decide whether they wanted to differentiate based on job title or levels of performance or whether they instead valued a more egalitarian distribution plan. Some leaders also believed that the possibility of schools differentiating bonus distributions based on individual performance might enhance the motivational effects of the bonus and lead to even...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Implementation of the Schoolwide Performance Bonus Program: Perceived Effects of the Bonus and Program Participation
    (pp. 161-186)

    Implicit in the SPBP’s theory of action was a hypothesis that participating in the program would result in several intermediate outcomes that would ultimately improve student achievement. First, the program was expected to influence a school’s improvement efforts and lead individuals to work together to implement strategies that would increase the probability of improving its Progress Report grade and winning a bonus. Under a schoolwide pay-for-performance program (and most accountability schemas), one would also expect schools to focus on what gets measured and used as criteria for winning the bonus, in this case, the key components that make up the...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Effects on Progress Report and Student Test Scores
    (pp. 187-230)

    The primary goal of SPBP was to change the education productivity by rewarding teachers and other UFT members for better student outcomes, as measured by the Progress Reports. This chapter first reviews how SPBP schools did on the performance metrics used to award bonuses: the Progress Report overall and component scores. It also examines how the program affected these metrics. The chapter then turns to more-direct measures of student achievement, investigating how SPBP affected student test scores, as measured by the State of New York’s standardized assessments during the three years of implementation. The purpose of this analysis was to...

  16. CHAPTER EIGHT Teacher Attitudes and Behaviors in SPBP and Control Schools
    (pp. 231-248)

    In this chapter, we assess how SPBP affected self-reported attitudes and behaviors by comparing the responses of a sample of teachers in all SPBP-assigned schools with the responses of teachers in eligible schools that were not randomly selected. Drawing on results from surveys administered in spring 2010, this analysis helps us determine whether SPBP had an effect on teachers that might have been the mediator or source of effects on student achievement.

    As noted at the outset, the leaders who designed SPBP set out several hypotheses about how the program would improve student outcomes:

    The possibility of receiving a share...

  17. CHAPTER NINE Conclusions and Implications
    (pp. 249-268)

    This study was designed to evaluate the implementation and effects of the New York City SPBP. Drawing on case studies, interviews, surveys, administrative data, and documents, along with an analysis of Progress Report and student achievement data, we examined the history and roll-out of the program, the experiences of teachers and CCs, the bonus distribution plans developed, overall attitudes about the program, effects on schools and individuals, and the effects on student achievement. In this final chapter, we summarize our key findings about the program, present a set of recommendations for NYCDOE and UFT leaders, and discuss implications for pay-for-performance...

  18. References
    (pp. 269-276)