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Summaries of RCT Grants

RCT of up-front performance incentives for instructors and students in community colleges

This project is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of performance incentives for community college instructors and their students.

Grant recipient: Regents of the University of California

Term: 2016 –2022

Principal Investigators: Sally Sadoff, Ph. D., University of California San Diego

Andy Brownback, Ph. D., University of Arkansas

Funding: $312,147

Summary: This project is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of performance incentives for community college instructors and their students. The instructors’ incentive consists of an upfront bonus worth up to 50% of their per course salary. If their students exceed pre-established performance targets, instructors earn additional payments, while failure to meet the targets results in the instructors repaying a portion of their upfront bonus. Students receive incentives as well in the form of vouchers for a free summer course if they successfully complete a selected course during the spring semester. As with the teacher incentive, the voucher is provided upfront at the start of spring semester, but students can lose the voucher if they fail to successfully complete the targeted course. The design of the intervention is informed by prior RCTs in Louisiana, Arizona, California, Florida, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Illinois and Mexico, which have found that 1) incentives for teachers and/or students can improve achievement at least in the short term and 2) upfront incentives are particularly powerful.

The study sample will consist of approximately 140 instructors and 6,000 students at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, and will use administrative data sources to measure student performance on an objective final exam, credit accumulation, degree completion, and employment over six years.

This study’s pre-specified analysis plan is linked here.

Grants

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