A new study shows that public school teachers in the District of Columbia are improving their performance because they're motivated by the possibility of substantial pay raises or because they don't want to get fired.
Previous studies of pay-for-performance systems in public schools have found little to no correlation between merit-based pay and teacher performance.
But the school system in the nation's capital is unique for the complexity of its teacher-evaluation system. Teachers are scored based on classroom observations, student test scores and other factors. Those who do well can get big raises, and those who fare poorly are fired.
Thomas Dee of Stanford University, one of the study's authors, said the district's incentives are more effective because it's not just offering cash for test scores.