Differential Pay: Alabama

2011 Retaining Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

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

Does not meet
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Differential Pay: Alabama results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/AL-Differential-Pay-9

Analysis of Alabama's policies

Alabama neither supports differential pay by which a teacher can earn additional compensation by teaching certain subjects nor offers incentives to teach in high-needs schools. However, the state has no regulatory language that would directly block districts from providing differential pay. 

Teachers who are National Board Certified are eligible to receive a $4,450 annual supplement. However, this type of differential pay is not tied to high-needs schools or subject-area shortages.

Citation

Recommendations for Alabama

Support differential pay initiatives for effective teachers in both subject shortage areas and high-needs schools.
Alabama should encourage districts to link compensation to district needs. Such policies can help districts achieve a more equitable distribution of teachers.

Consider tying National Board supplements to teaching in high-needs schools.
This differential pay could be an incentive to attract some of the state's most effective teachers to its low-performing schools.

State response to our analysis

Alabama recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. Alabama noted that the State Minimum Salary Schedule for Teachers that is adopted by the Alabama legislature as a component of the annual budget for education is based on highest degree earned from a regionally accredited college or university and the years of public school experience. Although local school systems may exceed the state minimums, the current financial situation tends to preclude doing so.

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:
http://papers.nber.org/papers/w12285.

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