Teacher bonuses fail to lift test scores

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WASHINGTON— A study released yesterday found that offering teachers annual bonuses of up to $15,000 had no effect on student test scores — a result likely to inflame debate about performance pay programs sprouting in schools nationwide.

The study suggests that teachers already were working so hard that the lure of extra money failed to induce them to intensify their effort or change methods of instruction. The experiment, in Nashville public schools, calls into question a key aspect of market-driven initiatives to improve schools that have become the vogue in some education circles.

“Pay reform is often thought to be a magic bullet,’’ said Matthew Springer, a Vanderbilt University education professor who led the study. “That doesn’t appear to be the case here. We need to develop more thoughtful and comprehensive ways of thinking about compensation. But at the same time, we’re not even sure whether incentive pay is an effective strategy for improving the system itself.’’

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