Posts Tagged LifeHelper
Educational reform is receiving considerable attention these days, and a new study suggests prepaying teachers appears to improve student academic performance.
Paying an upfront bonus does come with a caveat as part of the money must be returned if student performance fails to improve, say University of Chicago researchers.
The study showed that students gained as much as a 10 percentile increase in their scores compared to students with similar backgrounds — if their teacher received a bonus at the beginning of the year, with conditions attached.
There was no gain for students when teachers were offered the bonus at the end of the school year, the research found.
“This is the first experimental study to demonstrate that teacher merit pay can have a significant impact on student performance in the U.S.,” said economist John List, Ph.D., an author of the study.
The study, published by the National Bureau of Economics Research, reflects the findings of other studies in psychology and behavioral economics.
“The results of our experiment are consistent with over 30 years of psychological and economic research on the power of loss aversion to motivate behavior: Students whose teachers in the ‘loss’ treatment of the experiment showed large and significant gains in their math test scores,” said List, a professor in economics at UChicago.
Timing of the incentive made a significant difference.
“In line with previous studies in the United States, we did not find an impact of teacher incentives that are framed as gains (the reward coming at the end of the year),” he added.
The study comes amid a growing wave of interest of finding ways to provide teacher incentives to increase student performance — as usually assessed by student achievement on standardized tests. Unfortunately, most of the current incentive programs have not shown value, the scholars said.
The new study depends on a formula developed by Dr. Derek Neal, professor of economics at UChicago, and Gadi Barlevy, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
They devised the “pay for percentile” method of measuring teacher performance by comparing individual students with similar backgrounds and achievement to see what impact a teacher had on their learning.
The scholars used the formula in an experiment in Chicago Heights, Ill., a community 30 miles south of Chicago. The community has nine kindergarten to eighth-grade schools with a total enrollment of 3,200 students. Its achievement rates are below state average, and 98 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunches.
At the beginning of the school year, the teachers were introduced to the experiment and offered an opportunity to participate. A total of 150 of the 160 teachers agreed to join in the study, which was supported by the local teachers union.
The teachers were randomly assigned to a control group as well as a group given a bonus at the beginning of the year, a group that could receive the bonus at the end of the year, and a group made up of teachers who worked in teams. Money for the bonuses was provided from private sources.
One group of teachers in the study was given a $4,000 bonus at the beginning of the year and told it would be reduced by an amount reflecting their students’ performance — the more the students’ standardized scores increased, the more of the bonus their teacher could keep. Another group of teachers was told they would receive a $4,000 bonus if their students improved during the year.
The incentives were based on rewarding teachers with $80 for each percentile of increase in their students’ mathematics performance over the district average. They could, depending on exceptional student performance, receive up to $8,000 under the plan — the equivalent of 16 percent of the average teacher salary in the district.
The students were tested with the ThinkLink Predictive Assessment, a standardized, non-high-stakes diagnostic tool that is aligned with state achievement tests.
Thomas Amadio, superintendent of Chicago Heights Elementary School District 170, where the experiment was conducted, said the study shows the value of merit pay as an encouragement for better teacher performance.
“Teachers do have challenges, and classes can vary from year to year in how well they perform. Testing students individually to see their growth is a valuable measure, however,” he said.
Teachers responsible for that growth should be rewarded, he said.
Source: University of Chicago
Natural childbirth is a major cause of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to new research.
A Tel Aviv University researcher has discovered that approximately one-third of all postpartum women exhibit some symptoms of PTSD, and a smaller percentage develop full-blown PTSD following labor.
Of the women who developed symptoms, 80 percent opted for natural childbirth without pain relief, reported Professor Rael Strous of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine.
Other significant factors identified in the study include the woman’s body image, including discomfort about being in an undressed state for a relatively prolonged period of labor and undergoing elective Caesarean sections; fear during labor; and complications in not only this pregnancy, but in earlier ones as well.
Researchers interviewed 89 post-partum women between the ages of 20 and 40, first within five days after delivery and then again one month after delivery.
They discovered that of these women, 25.9 percent displayed symptoms of PTSD, 7.8 percent suffered from partial PTSD, and 3.4 percent exhibited symptoms of full-blown PTSD.
Symptoms included flashbacks of the labor, the avoidance of discussion of the event, physical reactions, such as heart palpitations during such discussions, and a reluctance to consider having another child.
According to Strous, one of the most influential factors was pain management during delivery. Of the women who experienced PTSD symptoms, 80 percent had gone through a natural childbirth, without any form of pain relief.
“The less pain relief there was, the higher the woman’s chances of developing post-partum PTSD,” he said. Of the women who did not develop any PTSD symptoms, only 48 percent experienced a natural childbirth, he added.
A full 80 percent of the PTSD group reported feeling discomfort with being unclothed, and 67 percent had previous pregnancies which they described as traumatic. Fear of the labor itself, both in terms of expected pain levels and danger to themselves and their children, was also influential.
The researchers also discovered that support during labor, in the form of a midwife or doula, had no impact when it came to avoiding PTSD symptoms. Other factors, such as socioeconomic and marital status, level of education, and religion, also had no effect.
Strous suggests doctors become familiar with the profile of women more disposed to suffer from PTSD symptoms, and be on the look-out for warning signs after labor. He also advocates additional research to develop better treatment plans and make more resources available for women.
There are some immediate steps medical professionals can take, Strous added, including better counseling about pain relief and making sure that patients’ bodies are properly covered during delivery.
“Dignity is a factor that should be taken into account,” he said. “It’s an issue of ethics and professionalism, and now we can see that it does have physical and psychological ramifications.”
The study was published in the Israel Medical Association Journal.