New York City’s School-Wide Performance Bonus Program

Midway through the 2007-08 school year, the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) implemented the School-Wide Performance Bonus Program (SPBP) to provide financial rewards to educators in schools serving disadvantaged students. The SPBP sets expected incentive payments as a fixed performance standard, meaning that schools participating in the program are not competing against one another for a fixed sum of money. All participating schools can earn bonus awards of up to $3,000 per full-time union member working at the school if the school meets predetermined performance targets defined by the NYCDOE’s accountability program, with the idea that this sum will be used to award bonuses to teachers and staff found to be deserving. The SPBP rules further mandate that schools participating in the program establish a four-person site-based compensation committee to determine how bonus awards will be distributed to school personnel.

The SPBP is an interesting case study for several reasons. First, the NYCDOE randomly assigned schools qualifying for the program to either treatment or control status. Since true random assignment will remove unobserved factors that can lead to systematic differences between schools receiving the SPBP treatment and those not eligible to do so, any significant differences in future outcomes can be attributed to the SPBP intervention rather than to other confounding factors associated with outcomes of interest. Second, the SPBP was developed collaboratively by the NYCDOE and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), which is the sole bargaining agent for school district personnel.Program guidelines that they developed required that at least 55 percent of school personnel in SPBP-eligible schools vote in favor of participation and that all school personnel within a school be eligible to receive an award.

NCPI has engaged with the NYCDOE to conduct evaluations of the SPBP. NCPI director Matthew Springer and Marcus Winters of the Manhattan Institute conducted an evaluation of the first year of implementation of the SPBP that focused on the impact of the program on student achievement in Math. NCPI and the RAND Corporation have also partnered to conduct further evaluations of this pay for performance program.

To read more about the first year evaluation report, please click here .

Additional information

What New York City’s Experiment with Schoolwide Performance Bonuses Tell Us About Pay for Performance 

A Big Apple for Educators: New York City’s Experiment with Schoolwide Performance Bonuses Final Evaluation Report