Differential Pay: Georgia

Retaining Effective Teachers Policy


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

Best Practice
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Differential Pay: Georgia results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/GA-Differential-Pay-9

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.

As of July 2010, Georgia created a system of differential pay for teachers in the critical shortage fields of mathematics and science. The system provides that early career mathematics and science teachers in secondary schools will begin their careers on step six of the state salary schedule rather than step one. They will 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 post-baccalaureate 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 in high-needs 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

State response to our analysis

Georgia recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

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