Differential Pay

2011 Retaining Effective Teachers Policy

2011 Goals for Differential Pay

The state should support differential pay for effective teaching in shortage and high-needs areas.

Best practices

Georgia supports differential pay by which teachers can earn additional compensation by teaching certain subjects. The state is especially commended for its new compensation strategy for math and science teachers, which moves teachers along the salary schedule rather than just providing a bonus or stipend. The state also supports differential pay initiatives to link compensation more closely with district needs and to achieve a more equitable distribution of teachers. Georgia's efforts to provide incentives for National Board Certification teachers to work in high-need schools are also noteworthy.

Best practice 1


Meets goal 12


Nearly meets goal 3


Meets goal in part 8


Meets a small part of goal 10


Does not meet goal 17


How we graded

States should help address chronic shortages and needs.

As discussed in Goal 4-C, states should ensure that state-level policies (such as a uniform salary schedule) do not interfere with districts' flexibility in compensating teachers in ways that best meet their individual needs and resources. However, when it comes to addressing chronic shortages, states should do more than simply get out of the way. They should provide direct support for differential pay for effective teaching in shortage subject areas and high-need schools. Attracting effective and qualified teachers to high-need schools or filling vacancies in hard-to-staff subjects are problems that are frequently beyond a district's ability to solve. States that provide direct support for differential pay in these areas are taking an important step in promoting the equitable distribution of quality teachers. Short of providing direct support, states can also use policy levers to indicate to districts that differential pay is not only permissible but necessary.

Research rationale

Two recent studies emphasize the need for differential pay. In "Teacher Quality and Teacher Mobility", L. Feng and T. Sass find that high performing teachers tend to transfer to schools with a large proportion of other high performing teachers and students, while low performing teachers cluster in bottom quartile schools (CALDER: Urban Institute 2011).  Another study from T. Sass et al found that the least effective teachers in high-poverty schools were considerably less effective than the least effective teachers in low-poverty schools.

Charles Clotfelter, et al., "Would Higher Salaries Keep Teachers in High-Poverty Schools? Evidence from a Policy Intervention in North Carolina," Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Duke University, May 16, 2006 at:

Julie Kowal, et al., "Financial Incentives for Hard to Staff Positions," Center for American Progress, November 2008.

A study by researchers at Rand found that higher pay lowered attrition, and the effect was stronger in high-needs school districts. Every $1,000 increase was estimated to decrease attrition by more than 6 percent. See S.N. Kirby, et al., "Supply and Demand of Minority Teachers in Texas: Problems and Prospects," Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 1999; 21(1): 47-66 at: http://epa.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/21/1/47

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