Test-based incentives not doing much good, says National Research Council report
Despite being used for several decades, test-based incentives have not consistently generated positive effects on student achievement, says a new report from the National Research Council. The report examines evidence on incentive programs, which impose sanctions or offer rewards for students, teachers, or schools on the basis of students’ test performance. Federal and state governments have increasingly relied on incentives in recent decades as a way to raise accountability in public education and in the hope of driving improvements in achievement.
School-level incentives -- like those of No Child Left Behind -- produce some of the larger effects among the programs studied, but the gains are concentrated in elementary grade mathematics and are small in comparison with the improvements the nation hopes to achieve, the report says. Evidence also suggests that high school exit exam programs, as currently implemented in many states, decrease the rate of high school graduation without increasing student achievement.