Matthew G. Springer

Associate Professor Robena and Walter E. Hussman, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Education Reform, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Chapter Member: North Carolina SSN
Areas of Expertise:

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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.

In the News

Research discussed by "Denver Teacher Strike Reveals US Divide over Bonus Pay," Associated Press, February 14, 2019.
Quoted by Kenneth Artz in "Merit-Based Teacher Pay Leads to Higher Student Achievement, DOE Study Finds," The Heartland Institute, February 11, 2018.
Quoted by Joan Brasher-Vanderbilt in "Top 1st Grade Teachers Extend Benefits of Pre-K," Futurity, January 1, 2016.
Opinion: "What Gets Students Motivated to Work Harder? Not Money," Matthew G. Springer, The Conversation, October 30, 2015.
Opinion: "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.
Research discussed by Grace Tatter, in "Middle School Students Want Recognition, Not Money," Chalkbeat Tennessee, September 14, 2015.
Quoted by Malanie Balakit in "Vanderbilt Study: Recognition, Not Money, Motivates Students," The Tennessean, September 1, 2015.
Quoted by Joan Brasher in "Recognition, Not Money, Motivates Middle-Schoolers to Learn, Especially Girls," Vanderbilt University News, August 28, 2015.
Research discussed by Joan Brasher, in "When Teachers Get Bonuses, Do Test Scores Rise," Vanderbilt University News, January 27, 2015.
Research discussed by Joan Brasher, in "Tennessee Teacher Retention Bonuses Are Paying Off," Vanderbilt University News, June 23, 2014.


"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. 

"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. 

"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. 

"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.

"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.

"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.