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Selective retention bonuses for highly effective teachers in high poverty schools: Evidence from Tennessee

, University of Georgia, United States ; , New York University,, United States ; , University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, United States

Economics of Education Review Volume 68, Number 1, ISSN 0272-7757 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


Research has established that racially isolated schools with high concentrations of low-income students disproportionately struggle to recruit and retain highly effective teachers, limiting disadvantaged students’ exposure to high-quality instruction and driving institutional and community instability. This study estimates the effect of selective retention bonuses (SRB) for highly effective teachers on low-performing, high poverty schools’ ability to elevate student performance by increasing access to effective instruction. The theory of action behind the bonus program is simple: SRBs result in greater numbers of highly effective teachers at participating schools, who subsequently drive larger student gains than the teachers who would otherwise fill their positions. To examine whether students in high poverty schools benefit from retention of highly effective teachers, we use differences in eligibility for schools to offer bonuses and the discrete timing of the program in a matched sample, difference-in-differences framework. Results indicate that schools who offered SRBs saw greater test score gains in subsequent years, especially on state reading exams.


Swain, W.A., Rodriguez, L.A. & Springer, M.G. (2019). Selective retention bonuses for highly effective teachers in high poverty schools: Evidence from Tennessee. Economics of Education Review, 68(1), 148-160. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved December 15, 2019 from .

This record was imported from Economics of Education Review on March 15, 2019. Economics of Education Review is a publication of Elsevier.

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