Educator Incentives and Educational Triage in Rural Primary Schools
40 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2018 Last revised: 26 Jul 2021
Date Written: August 2018
In low-income countries, educators often encourage weak primary students to drop out before reaching the end of primary school in order to avoid the negative attention they receive when their students perform poorly on primary leaving exams. We conducted an experiment in rural Uganda that sought to reduce dropout rates in grade six and seven by rewarding teachers for the performance of each of their students. Teachers responded to this Pay for Percentile (PFP) incentive system in ways that raised attendance rates two school years later from .56 to .60. These attendance gains were driven primarily by outcomes in treatment schools that provide textbooks for grade six math students, where two-year attendance rates rose from .57 to .64. In these same schools, students whose initial skills levels prepared them to use grade six math texts enjoyed significant gains in math achievement. We find little evidence that PFP improved attendance or achievement in schools without books even though PFP had the same impact on reported teacher effort in schools with and without books. We document several results that are consistent with the hypothesis that teacher effort and books are complements in education production.
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