Springer

Matthew G. Springer

Associate Professor of Public Policy and Education, Vanderbilt University
Areas of Expertise:
  • State & Local Government
  • K-12 Education
  • School Reform

Connect with Matthew

About Matthew

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.

Podcast

Publications

"Teacher Performance Pay: A Review" (with Michael Podgursky). Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 26, no. 4 (2011): 909-950.

Examines the economic case for performance-related pay in the K-12 education system.

"Teacher Pay for Performance: Experimental Evidence from the Project on Incentives in Teaching," (with Dale Ballou, Laura Hamilton, Vi-Nhuan Le, J.R. Lockwood, Daniel McCaffrey, Matthew Pepper, and Brian Stetcher), National Center on Performance Incentives, October 2012.

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. 

"Monetary vs. Non-Monetary Incentives for Tutoring Services: A Randomized Controlled Trial" (with Brooks Rosenquist and Walker Swain). Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness 8 (2015): 453-474.

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. 

"Early Grade Teacher Effectiveness and Pre-K Effect Persistence: Evidence from Tennessee" (with Walker Swain and Kerry Hofer). AERA Open 1, no. 4 (2015).

Argues that teacher quality in years subsequent to pre-K participation is associated with more persistent positive pre-K effects. 

"Achievement Tradeoffs and No Child Left Behind" (with Dale Ballou). Education Finance and Policy (forthcoming).

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. 

"Effective Teacher Retention Bonuses: Evidence from Tennessee" (with Luis Rodriguez and Walker Swain). Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis (forthcoming).

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.

In the News

Matthew G. Springer quoted in Kenneth Artz, "Merit-Based Teacher Pay Leads to Higher Student Achievement, DOE Study Finds" The Heartland Institute, February 11, 2018.
Matthew G. Springer's research on teacher retention discussed in Joan BrasherMatthew G. Springer, "Tennessee Teacher Retention Bonuses Are Paying Off," Vanderbilt University News, June 23, 2014.
Matthew G. Springer's research on non-monetary incentives in education discussed in Joan BrasherMatthew G. Springer, "When Teachers Get Bonuses, Do Test Scores Rise," Vanderbilt University News, January 27, 2015.
Matthew G. Springer's research on incentives in education discussed in Grace TatterMatthew G. Springer, "Middle School Students Want Recognition, Not Money," Chalkbeat Tennessee, September 14, 2015.
Matthew G. Springer quoted on early-childhood education in Malanie Balakit, "Vanderbilt Study: Recognition, Not Money, Motivates Students" The Tennessean, September 1, 2015.
Matthew G. Springer quoted on incentives in motivating student behaviors in Joan Brasher, "Recognition, Not Money, Motivates Middle-Schoolers to Learn, Especially Girls" Vanderbilt University News, August 28, 2015.
"Monetary vs. Non-Monetary Incentives for Program Participation: An Experiment with Free Middle School Tutoring," Matthew G. Springer (with Brooks Rosenquist and Walker A. Swain), Policy Analysis for California Education, September 15, 2015.
"What Gets Students Motivated to Work Harder? Not Money," Matthew G. Springer, The Conversation, October 30, 2015.
Matthew G. Springer quoted in Joan Brasher-Vanderbilt, "Top 1st Grade Teachers Extend Benefits of Pre-K" Futurity, January 1, 2016.