A new study published by the U.S. Department of Education suggests that there is a relationship between performance pay and student test score gains.

In “Evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund: Implementation and Impacts of Pay-for-Performance After Three Years,” researchers from Mathematica Policy Research examined the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF), a federal program that supported performance-pay compensation in high-need schools.  The concluded,

Pay-for-performance had small, positive impacts on students’ reading and math achievement. After three years of TIF implementation, average student achievement was 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.

This is good news, but I still think that the recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers are more compelling reasons to support differentiated pay.

The most recent state budget included a number of performance- and incentive-based pilot programs for educators.