New York City’s School-Wide Bonus Pay Program: Early Evidence from a Randomized Trial

April 2009

In this paper, we examine the impact of New York City’s School-Wide Performance Bonus Program (SPBP) on student outcomes and the school learning environment. The SPBP is a pay-for-performance program that was implemented in approximately 200 K-12 public schools midway into the 2007-08 school year. Participating schools can earn bonus awards of up to $3,000 per full-time union member working at the school if the school meets performance targets defined by the city’s accountability program. Our sample includes 186 SPBP-eligible elementary, K-8, and middle schools and 137 control-condition schools in New York City over a two-year period. Overall, we find that the SPBP had little impact on student proficiency or school environment in its first year. However, it is important to remember the short-run results reported in this study provide only very limited evidence of the SPBP’s effectiveness. An evaluation of the program’s impact after two years should provide more meaningful information about the impact of the SPBP.

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