Understanding the Response to Financial and Non-Financial Incentives in Education: Field Experimental Evidence Using High-Stakes Assessments

59 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2016

See all articles by Simon M. Burgess

Simon M. Burgess

University of Bristol - Department of Economics; University of Bristol - Leverhulme Centre for Market and Public Organisation (CMPO); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Robert Metcalfe

University of Chicago - Becker Friedman Institute for Economics

Sally Sadoff

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management

Abstract

We analyze the impact of incentivizing students' effort during the school year on performance on high-stakes assessments in a field experiment with 63 low-income high schools and over 10,000 students. We contribute to the literature on education incentives by incentivising inputs rather than output, by focusing on high stakes outcomes, and by comparing financial and non-financial rewards. We take advantage of our large sample and rich data to explore heterogeneity in the effects of incentives, and identify a "right tail" of underperforming students who experience a significant impact on high stakes assessments. Among students in the upper half of the distribution of incentive effectiveness, exam scores improve by 10% to 20% of a standard deviation, equal to about half the attainment gap between poor and non-poor students.

Keywords: test scores, pupil incentives, pupil behaviour

JEL Classification: I21, I28

Suggested Citation

Burgess, Simon and Metcalfe, Robert and Sadoff, Sally, Understanding the Response to Financial and Non-Financial Incentives in Education: Field Experimental Evidence Using High-Stakes Assessments. IZA Discussion Paper No. 10284, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2861069

Simon Burgess (Contact Author)

University of Bristol - Department of Economics ( email )

8 Woodland Road
Bristol BS8 ITN
United Kingdom
+44 117 928 8436 (Phone)
+44 117 928 8577 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.bris.ac.uk/Depts/Economics/department/profiles/burgess.htm

University of Bristol - Leverhulme Centre for Market and Public Organisation (CMPO)

12 Priory Road
Bristol BS8 1TN
United Kingdom

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Robert Metcalfe

University of Chicago - Becker Friedman Institute for Economics ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Sally Sadoff

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Rady School of Management
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

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