Welcome to the Profit of Education website. Continuing the conversation begun in the book Profit of Education, we discuss the latest economic evidence on education reform.

Would paying teachers $125,000 a year get results?

In Profit of Education I wrote,

One charter school, The Equity Project (TEP) in New York City, plans to raise base teacher salaries to $125,000 plus $25,000 bonuses–all without increasing spending one dime.

Now some four years later, we learn that TEP is indeed paying teachers 125 grand a year plus bonuses (the bonuses being typically smaller than $25,000.)

So did it do the kids any good?

A new report by Mathematica makes it clear that the answer is yes! Students at TEP outperformed similar students by a lot. Here’s the picture generated by the report’s authors.

TEP from MathematicaAfter the full four years in TEP, students progressed over than a year and a half more than similar students in math. The extra gains in language arts and science were more modest, but still very noticeable.

If you are a suspicious type (as you should be), let me give you some answers to questions that are popping into your head about now.

TEP students are almost all Hispanic or black. 90 percent are on free lunch. Students were admitted by lottery. Attrition of students was about the same as in similar, nearby schools (actually, slightly lower). TEP expelled and/or suspended exactly zero students. The fraction of special education students was the same as in nearby schools. TEP students performed a touch below the level of students in nearby schools before they started TEP.

In other words, TEP’s success appears to be very real. The one possible caveat is that students did apply to TEP, so it’s possible that they come from more motivated families–despite the data showing that TEP students were comparable to other students in the area.

The magic in all this is that TEP pulled this off on pretty much the same budget that all other schools have. Wednesday I’ll talk about how they pulled off this neat trick. Friday I’ll talk about some things that didn’t go perfectly.

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