Academic achievement -- Florida, Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, Mathematics -- Study and teaching (Middle school) -- Florida, Merit pay -- Florida, Middle school students -- Florida, Teachers -- Salaries, etc -- Florida


President Barack Obama committed hundreds of millions of dollars to the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF), yet a few fundamental questions remain unanswered—was the federal program effective? Did student test scores improve? Since the late 19th century, teachers have been paid for their classroom services regardless of how well—or poorly— their students performed. Nearly a century later, advocates of education reform continue to champion teacher compensation policies that link salary to student achievement. Researchers have identified two motivation theories that must be present in order to have a successful incentive pay program: goal theory and expectancy theory. The presence or absence of these theories, have produced mixed results at both the federal and state levels. Although the Florida Department of Education crafted its own statewide incentive pay plan, three public school districts have received multimillion dollar awards via competitive TIF grants. The purpose of this dissertation was to determine if any differences in learning gains existed between the 2008 and 2009 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test® (FCAT® ) Math scores among the students of math teachers at one urban Central Florida Title I middle school who participated in TIF when compared to the students of math teachers who did not participate in TIF. The dissertation also analyzed FCAT® Math scores from 2005 through 2009 in one Central Florida school district to determine if any trends existed among the Title I middle schools participating in TIF; if any trends existed iv among the Title I middle schools that did not participate in TIF; and if any trends existed between the two groups when compared to each other. The literature review and results of this study found that learning gains existed among students whose teachers participated in TIF. In fact, at one urban Central Florida middle school, students of math teachers who did not participate in TIF also demonstrated learning gains. In addition, seven of the ten Title I middle schools from the same Central Florida district had increased FCAT® Math scores with the implementation of the TIF grant along with the three Title I middle school that were not eligible to participate. This research suggested that the teacher incentive program implemented in a Central Florida district had a positive impact on learning gains of low-performing students. The results of the independent-samples tests revealed that there was no statistical difference in the math scores based on participation in TIF. Students of the math teachers who participated in TIF demonstrated at least one year‘s academic growth. Likewise, the findings were similar for students of teachers who opted not to participate as learning gains increased in this group as well. As a result of these findings, recommendations for further study include end-of-the-year interviews with TIF-eligible teachers whose students had learning gains, but chose not to participate. Suggestions for additional research include surveying teachers whose students had higher scores in the absence of an incentive program, analyzing the test scores of other subject areas, and researching other school districts in Florida that were awarded the TIF grant.


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Graduation Date





Stewart, Martha Lue


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education


Educational Studies








Release Date

May 2010

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education, Education -- Dissertations, Academic

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