Springer’s research interests involve educational policy issues, with a particular focus on the impact of policy on resource allocation decisions and student outcomes. His current research includes studies of the impact of performance-based incentives on student achievement and teacher turnover, mobility, and quality; the impact of educator evaluation systems on educator outcomes; and the strategic resource allocation decision-making of schools in response to school accountability programs. By working closely with practitioners, policymakers, and researchers, his work intends to not only add knowledge in a traditional academic sense, but also to inform educational research, practice, and policy development. He has served on several advisory committees charged with designing performance-based compensation systems for teachers and principals at the state and district level and has testified on performance-pay and educator evaluation policies in Florida, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas. He has also conducted analyses of school finance systems in Alaska, Kentucky, Missouri, and South Carolina.
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Assesses the effect of financial rewards for teachers who students showed unusually large gains on standardized tests. Argues that the evidence does not suggest that the opportunity to earn a significant financial incentive improves student test scores or changes teachers’ attitudes and practices.
Argues that teacher quality in years subsequent to pre-K participation is associated with more persistent positive pre-K effects.
Examines the economic case for performance-related pay in the K-12 education system.
Presents evidence from a quasi-experimental evaluation of a $5,000 retention bonus program for effective teachers in Tennessee’s Priority Schools. Evaluates the positive effects for teachers of tested subjects and grades.
Compares students’ responses to monetary and non-monetary (certificates of recognition) incentives designed to increase participation in federally funded after-school tutoring services. Argues that the benefits of the monetary incentive were negligible, while the students in the certificate of recognition group were much more likely to attend tutoring.
Analyzes the effects of the No Child Left Behind act on the distribution of student test scores. Suggests that student test score gains have been concentrated on particular students in the test score distribution at the expense of other students.