Incentives to Improve Teaching: Lessons from Latin America

Incentives to Improve Teaching: Lessons from Latin America

Incentives to Improve Teaching: Lessons from Latin America

Incentives to Improve Teaching: Lessons from Latin America


Latin America faces tremendous challenges, particularly those of development, poverty, and inequality. Education is widely recognized as one of the most critical means of defeating these challenges. Democratizing education, by improving both its coverage and quality, is critical to overcoming the social and economic inequality that plagues Latin America. Ensuring that all children have the opportunity to learn critical skills at both primary and secondary level is paramount to overcoming skill barriers that perpetuate underdevelopment and poverty. A growing body of evidence supports the intuitive notion that teachers play a key role in what, how, and how much students learn. Attracting qualified individuals into the teaching profession, retaining these qualified teachers, providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge, and motivating them to work hard and do the best job they can is arguably the key education challenge.'Incentives to Improve Teaching' focuses on education reforms that alter teacher incentives and the impact their on teaching quality and student learning. The reforms explored in this volume represent efforts by several countries in the region to increase teacher accountability and introduce incentives to motivate teachers to raise student learning.


This book is about one of the most pressing challenges in improving education quality in Latin America: designing and implementing effective incentives for enhancing teaching practice as a means for raising student learning outcomes. The various evaluations presented in the volume tackle this issue using the best available data and latest methodological approaches to provide insights into why and how education reforms can affect who chooses to enter and remain in the teaching profession and how effective are teachers in fostering student learning.

By providing well-researched evidence on diverse education reforms affecting teacher incentives in the region, the book makes an important contribution to the literature on teacher incentives in general and, especially, to the education literature in Latin America. Perhaps more important, the lessons on teacher incentive reforms from this research can be useful to policy makers in Latin America and in the rest of the world.

The research in this book provides evidence that teachers respond to incentives, and that these vary in nature: some incentives affect who decides to enter and remain in the teaching profession, while other incentives affect the work teachers do in classrooms. How well teachers are paid relative to similar workers in other professions affects teaching quality. Additionally, changes in the structure of pay—in which teachers are rewarded for doing specific things, such as mentoring new teachers or having students perform better in tests, can lead to higher student learning. But pay incentives appear to be more powerful when teachers can lose their jobs as a result of poor performance. As in most policy reforms, in the case of teacher incentive reforms, too, the devil is in the details. The cases in this volume show that clarity in the behaviors that are being motivated, as well as real differentiation in the rewards to teachers who adopt the desired behaviors and those who do not, can have a big impact on the effectiveness of teacher incentive reforms.

Changes in other aspects of teacher contracts can also have a great impact on teaching quality and student learning. Education reforms, even those not specifically designed to affect teachers, can influence—and sometimes have even greater effects than changes in compensation—the characteristics of those who choose to enter and remain in teaching and . . .

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