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National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

Evaluation Studies of the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

Impact Evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund

Contractor: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.; Vanderbilt University; Chesapeake Research Associates

Background/Research Questions:

The Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) is authorized by Title V, Part D of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and annual appropriations acts. The purpose of the TIF program is to develop and implement performance-based compensation systems (PBCSs) for teachers, principals, and other personnel in high-need schools.

Research indicates that high quality teachers are critical to raising student achievement in low-performing schools, but schools most in need often have difficulty in attracting and retaining high-quality teachers. Performance pay is a policy promoted by the TIF program to improve the quality of teachers in high-need schools. This evaluation studies performance pay that provides substantial and differentiated bonus pay to high-performing teachers in low-performing schools with high-need students. The study will address the following:

  • What is the effect on student achievement of a performance based bonus compared to an across-the-board 1% annual bonus?
  • Are there differences in the composition and effectiveness of teachers and principals between these two methods of paying teachers and principals? Are there any differential effects on recruitment and retention of teachers and principals?
  • Is a particular type of performance based bonus model—for example, school- or individual-based or mixed programs—associated with greater gains in student achievement? Are other key program features correlated with student and educator outcomes?
  • What are the experiences and challenges of districts when implementing these programs?


The evaluation effort includes two separate teams: the implementation team to support fidelity of implementation to each grantee's proposed PBCS consistent with the evaluation study, and the evaluation team to rigorously study the PBCS policy. Study schools will be randomly assigned within a grant to either implement all components of the performance based compensation system (PBCS) or the PBCS with a 1% across-the board bonus in place of the differentiated effectiveness incentive component of the PBCS. Data collection will include a district survey of all round 3 TIF grantees and the following data collection for schools participating in the impact study: teacher and principal surveys, teacher and principal school assignment records, student Record Information (such as student demographics and student test scores), and grantee interviews. Annual data collection will be used to document implementation information as well as to conduct impact analyses.

Cost/Duration: $12,000,000 over 6 years (December 2009–December 2015)

Current Status: Data analysis of first year implementation data is underway. The first implementation report is underway and is expected to be released in fall 2014. It will be announced on