Differential Pay: Georgia

Retaining Effective Teachers Policy


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

Meets goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). Differential Pay: Georgia results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/GA-Differential-Pay-72

Analysis of Georgia's policies

Georgia supports differential pay by which a teacher can earn additional compensation by teaching certain subjects. For teachers delivering instruction in the fields of mathematics, science, special education or foreign language, the State Board of Education may request a salary increase not to exceed an additional step on the state salary schedule to which that teacher is otherwise entitled. After three such salary increases, a teacher is no longer eligible for additional increases.

Georgia offers additional compensation for teachers in the critical shortage fields of mathematics and science. Early career mathematics and science teachers in secondary schools begin their careers on step six of the state salary schedule rather than step one. They receive this higher pay rate for five years. At the end of that period, teachers who can show evidence that their students meet or exceed state-determined achievement levels continue to receive the higher pay rate for the next five-year cycle. This pattern can continue throughout the educator's career as long as the achievement levels are met.

Elementary school teachers have a similar incentive program under this system. Those who complete postbaccalaureate mathematics and/or science endorsements will receive yearly stipends. Demonstration of state-determined student achievement gains every five years will allow these teachers to continue to receive the stipend.

Georgia also supports differential pay for National Board Certified teachers at high-need schools, which the state defines as public schools that have received an unacceptable rating for two or more consecutive years. These teachers are eligible to receive not less than a 10 percent salary increase. Georgia has amended the program by limiting this differential pay to teachers who remain in teaching. Those who leave the classroom for administration and other nonteaching fields will no longer receive the differential pay.


Recommendations for Georgia

As a result of Georgia‚Äôs strong differential pay policies, no recommendations are provided.

State response to our analysis

Georgia recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

Research rationale

States should help address chronic shortages and needs.
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.

Differential Pay: Supporting Research
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 Institute, Working Paper 57, January 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 http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/1001469-calder-working-paper-52.pdf.
C. Clotfelter, E. Glennie, H. Ladd, and J. Vigdor, "Would Higher Salaries Keep Teachers in High-Poverty Schools? Evidence from a Policy Intervention in North Carolina," NBER Working Paper 12285, June 2006.
J. Kowal, B. Hassel, and E. Hassel, "Financial Incentives for Hard-To-Staff Positions: Cross-Sector Lessons for Public Education," 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. Kirby, M. Berends, and S. Naftel, "Supply and Demand of Minority Teachers in Texas: Problems and Prospects," Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Volume 21, No. 1, March 20, 1999, pp. 47-66 at: http://epa.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/21/1/47.