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LBJ School Alumna Priscilla Aquino Garza Lends Agency Angle to LBJ School Education Policy Research

AUSTIN, Texas-- April 13, 2010-- When President Barack Obama announced his Race to the Top program in the summer of 2009, the national conversation seemed to focus solely on one issue, teacher incentive pay. Journalists, politicos and academics rushed to the podium to throw their two cents in, some asking whether there should be teacher incentive pay and others asking how to do it.

As states compete for the $5 billion set aside for Race to the Top, teachers and administrators need education policy experts like Jane Lincove, assistant professor of public affairs at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, to sift through the confusion.

An expert in education policy, Lincove has devoted her career to understanding and improving the decisions states and school districts make to improve public education. Lincove has focused on the economic incentives in education, most recently, teacher incentive pay.

Seen by many as the natural evolution of the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind program, Race to the Top incentive pay rewards teachers directly for their contribution to student achievement, Lincove said.

"The Obama administration has been talking about teacher incentive pay for about a year and half," said Lincove. "But Texas has been doing it a lot longer than that. Texas has had three different teacher incentive pay programs and right now they have about $200 million a year that they have put into one program."

t is that program, the District Awards for Teacher Incentives (DATE), Lincove has made the focus of her research into exactly how districts with a myriad of different needs can implement teacher incentive pay structures that work.

According to Priscilla Aquino Garza, research and policy adviser for the Texas Education Agency and LBJ School alumna, Race to the Top does not require that states link teacher pay to student achievement. However, the grant structure might favor states that either already have teacher incentive pay systems in place, can prove they plan to implement them, or have plans to tie student achievement to teacher evaluations.

The issue, said Aquino Garza, is that there just isn't a lot of research on how states should create these systems. That's why Lincove asked Aquino Garza, her former student, to advise her as she researches the largest teacher incentive pay and student achievement program, DATE, ever implemented in the United States.