Teacher incentives in developing countries: experimental evidence from India

Author(s): Muralidharan, Karthik; Sundararaman, Venkatesh

Date: 2006

Pages: 52 p.

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Performance pay for teachers is frequently suggested as a way of improving educational outcomes in schools, but the empirical evidence to date on its effectiveness is limited and mixed. The article presents results from a randomized evaluation of a teacher incentive program implemented across a representative sample of government-run rural primary schools in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The program provided bonus payments to teachers based on the average improvement of their students' test scores in independently administered learning assessments (with a mean bonus of 3% of annual pay). Students in incentive schools performed significantly better than those in control schools by 0.19 and 0.12 standard deviations in math and language tests respectively. They scored significantly higher on "conceptual" as well as "mechanical" components of the tests suggesting that the gains in test scores represented an actual increase in learning outcomes. Incentive schools also performed better on subjects for which there were no incentives. No significant difference is found in the effectiveness of group versus individual teacher incentives. Incentive schools performed significantly better than other randomly-chosen schools that received additional schooling inputs of a similar value.

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