The Motivational Effects of School-Based Performance Awards

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CPRE Policy Briefs
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Education Policy
Performance Management
Teacher Education and Professional Development
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Kelley, Caroline
Odden, Allan
Milanowski, Anthony
Heneman III, Herbert G

From 1995-1998, CPRE teacher compensation researchers conducted extensive interviews and survey questionnaires of teachers and principals in three sites to measure the motivational effects of school-based performance award (SBPA) programs. When a school met preset educational objectives, usually related to increases in student achievement, the SBPA programs in Charlotte-Mecklenburg (North Carolina) and Kentucky provided salary bonuses to all the teachers in the school and the SBPA program in Maryland provided a monetary award to the school for school improvements. CPRE researchers found that the SBPA programs in two of the three sites helped teachers focus on student performance goals. However, the motivational power of the programs varied due to differences in teachers’ beliefs. For instance, it mattered whether teachers believed their individual effort would lead to increases in schoolwide student performance, the SBPA system was fair and the award amount was worth the extra effort and stress, and that they would be given the award if they could produce the improved performance results. The relationship between teachers who were motivated by school-based performance awards or sanctions and improvements in school performance also varied and may have been attributable to differences in the actual programs as well as the local context.

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