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Impact Evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund

Contract Information

Current Status:

This study has been completed.


December 2009 – December 2017



Contract Numbers:

ED-04-CO-0112/0012; ED-IES-14-C-0115


Mathematica Policy Research
Vanderbilt University


The purpose of the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) program and its successor, the Teacher and School Leader (TSL) Incentive program, is to develop and implement performance-based compensation systems for teachers, principals, and other personnel in high-need schools to improve student achievement.

This mandated evaluation was of 62 TIF grants awarded to school districts in fiscal year 2010 totaling approximately $600 million. The 2010 grant competition required four core program components: (i) measures of educator effectiveness that use student achievement growth and at least two observations by trained observers, (ii) a pay-for-performance bonus based on educators performance on the effectiveness measures, (iii) bonus pay opportunities for educators to take on additional roles or responsibilities, and (iv) professional development to help educators understand the measures being used to evaluate as well as to improve their performance. The evaluation primarily focused on the impact of the pay-for-performance component of 10 grantees that agreed to participate in a random assignment evaluation.

  • What were the characteristics of all 2010 TIF districts and their performance-based compensation systems? What implementation experiences and challenges did TIF districts encounter?
  • How did teachers and principals in schools that did or did not offer pay-for-performance bonuses compare on key dimensions, including their understanding of TIF program features, exposure to TIF activities, allocation of time, and attitudes toward teaching and the TIF program?
  • What was the impact of pay-for-performance bonuses on students' achievement on state assessments of math and reading?
  • How did pay-for-performance bonuses affect educator mobility, including whether mobility differed by educator effectiveness?

In 2010, the grant competition included a separate competition for districts that were willing to participate in an impact study. The study schools in each of 10 grantee districts were randomly assigned to either implement all components of TIF or replace the pay-for-performance component of TIF with a 1% across-the-board bonus.

Data collection included a district survey of all 62 TIF grantees from 2010 to document the implementation of their performance-based compensation systems and the following data collection for schools participating in the random assignment study: teacher and principal surveys to document their understanding and experience with TIF; teacher and principal school assignment records to look at mobility and retention; student administrative records to look at student outcomes; and grantee interviews to obtain more detailed information about their TIF program. Data were collected over the course of four years and used to document annual implementation (the first and second research questions), as well as to conduct impact analyses (the third and fourth research questions).

The final report for TIF, titled Evaluation of the Teacher Incentive Fund: Final Report on Implementation and Impacts of Pay-for-Performance Across Four Years was released in December 2017.

Other publications from this study are listed below.

Reports on the Implementation and Impact of TIF


A restricted-use file containing de-identified data is available for the purposes of replicating study findings and secondary analysis.

  • For the ten evaluation districts that participated in the random assignment study, on average pay-for-performance bonuses led to slightly higher student achievement in schools that offered such bonuses than in schools that did not. This difference was equivalent to a gain of three to four additional weeks of learning.
  • Implementation was similar across the four years, with most districts implementing at least 3 of the 4 required components for teachers. The four components are: 1) using effectiveness measures of educator performance, 2) offering bonuses based on performance, 3) offering opportunities for additional pay for taking on extra roles and responsibilities, and 4) offering professional development to understand the policy and to support educator improvement.
  • Many 2010 TIF districts reported that sustainability of their program was a major challenge, and slightly fewer than half planned to offer pay-for-performance bonuses after their grant ended.