Incentives and Coaching for Student Achievement

Financial incentives for students have recently been tested as a possible solution to poor student achievement. Past research has shown modest effects on average, and suggestive evidence that incentives for inputs (that is, student effort) outperform incentives for output. It remains unclear whether this pattern of results is because incentives for outputs are ineffective at motivating students, or whether students simply do not know how to improve their outcomes. In partnership with an online test-prep company, we will conduct a randomized experiment to rigorously answer three questions: (1) Are incentives for student effort more (cost-) effective at increasing test scores than direct incentives for test scores themselves? (2) How do student test scores respond to a coaching service, which provides students with feedback and a personalized study plan? And, (3) Is the effect of incentives boosted by providing students with coaching?

RFP Cycle:
SPRI RFP IV [Nov 2015]
United States of America
  • Pilot project