Do Financial Incentives Help Low-Performing Schools Attract and Keep Academically Talented Teachers? Evidence from California

40 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2009 Last revised: 17 Mar 2009

See all articles by Jennifer L. Steele

Jennifer L. Steele

American University

Richard J. Murnane

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

John B. Willett

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education

Date Written: March 2009

Abstract

This study capitalizes on a natural experiment that occurred in California between 2000 and 2002. In those years, the state offered a competitively allocated $20,000 incentive called the Governor's Teaching Fellowship (GTF) aimed at attracting academically talented, novice teachers to low-performing schools and retaining them in those schools for at least four years. Taking advantage of data on the career histories of 27,106 individuals who pursued California teaching licenses between 1998 and 2003, we use an instrumental variables strategy to estimate the unbiased impact of the GTF on the decisions of recipients to begin working in low-performing schools within two years after licensure program enrollment. We estimate that GTF recipients would have been less likely to teach in low-performing schools than observably similar counterparts had the GTF not existed, but that acquiring a GTF increased their probability of doing so by 28 percentage points. Examining retention patterns, we find that 75 percent of both GTF recipients and non-recipients who began working in low-performing schools remained in such schools for at least four years.

Suggested Citation

Steele, Jennifer L. and Murnane, Richard J. and Willett, John B., Do Financial Incentives Help Low-Performing Schools Attract and Keep Academically Talented Teachers? Evidence from California (March 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w14780, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1359476

Jennifer L. Steele

American University ( email )

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Richard J. Murnane (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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617-496-4820 (Phone)
617-496-3095 (Fax)

John B. Willett

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education ( email )

6 Appian Way
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-3401 (Phone)

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