Prior Work: Georgia

Teacher Compensation Policy


The state should encourage districts to provide compensation for related prior subject-area work experience. This goal was consistent between 2015 and 2017.

Meets goal in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2017). Prior Work: Georgia results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Georgia's policies

Requirements: Georgia encourages its districts to compensate teachers for certain types of related prior subject-area work experience. For all positions requiring a state-issued certification, the state allows a defined number of experiences to count toward salary requirements, with most qualifying experiences relating to the education field, such as serving as a teacher in a foreign country or serving in a professional position at the U.S. Department of Education.  

State salary schedule is waived for 169 of 180 school districts to allow districts to provide additional compensation for new teachers with relevant prior work experience.


Recommendations for Georgia

Expand policy to encourage districts to compensate all new teachers with relevant prior work experience.
Georgia should not limit this policy to only certain specific education field experiences. Such compensation would be attractive to career changers in other fields, such as in the STEM subjects.

State response to our analysis

Georgia recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

Updated: December 2017

How we graded

8C: Prior Work 

  • Compensation: The state should encourage districts to compensate new teachers with relevant prior work experience through mechanisms such as starting these teachers at an advanced step on the pay scale.
Element One: Compensation
The full goal score is earned based on the following:

  • Full credit: The state will earn full credit if it compensates teachers for relevant prior work experience through mechanisms such as advanced starting salaries.
  • Three-quarters credit: The state will earn three-quarters of a point if it explicitly allows or encourages districts to compensate teachers for prior work experience.
  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if it allows compensation for prior work experience only for teachers of certain subjects.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it limits compensation for prior work experience to military experience.

Research rationale

Districts should be allowed to pay new teachers with relevant work experience more than other new teachers. State and district salary structures frequently fail to recognize that new teacher hires are not necessarily new to the workforce.[1] Some new teachers bring with them deep work experience that is directly related to the subject matter they will teach.[2] For example, the hiring of a new high school chemistry teacher with 20 years' experience as a chemical engineer would likely be a great boon to any district.[3] Yet most salary structures would place this individual at the same point on the pay schedule as a new teacher straight out of college. Compensating these teachers commensurate with their experience is an important recruitment and retention strategy, particularly when other, non-teaching opportunities in these fields are likely to be more financially lucrative.[4]

Specifics of teacher pay should largely be left to local decision making. However, states should use policy mechanisms to inform districts that it is not only permissible, but also necessary, to compensate new teachers with relevant prior work experience.

[1] Much of the blame for the difficulty in hiring candidates with specific expertise falls on the single salary schedule that rewards only teaching experience and degree level. See: Goldhaber, D. D., & Liu, A. Y. H. (2005). Teacher salary structure and the decision to teach in public schools: An analysis of recent college graduates. Center on Reinventing Public Education, University of Washington.
[2] Of particular concern for the teaching profession are the quality and number of teachers available in math, science and special education and of those serving high-poverty students. See: Hare, D., Nathan, J., Darland, J., & Laine, S. W. (2000). Teacher shortages in the midwest: Current trends and future issues. North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. Retrieved from; Harrington, P. E. (2001). Attracting new teachers requires changing old rules. College Board Review, 192, 6-11. Retrieved from; Shields, P. M., Humphrey, D. C., Wechsler, M. E., Riel, L. M., Tiffany-Morales, J., Woodworth, K., ... & Price, T. (2001). The status of the teaching profession 2001. Santa Cruz, CA: The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from
[3] People with specific skills are in high demand in the non-teacher labor market. See: Stasz, C., & Brewer, D. J. (1999). Academic skills at work: Two perspectives. RAND Corporation. Retrieved from; See also: Weisbrod, B. A., & Karpoff, P. (1968). Monetary returns to college education, student ability, and college quality. Review of Economics and Statistics, 50(4), 491-497.
[4] It has also been shown that teachers who teach specific subject matters have higher rates of attrition. See: Podgursky, M., Monroe, R., & Watson, D. (2004). The academic quality of public school teachers: An analysis of entry and exit behavior. Economics of Education Review, 23(5), 507-518.; In addition, research has shown that math and science teachers—both men and women—with high ACT scores are the first to leave the teaching profession. See: S. Kirby, S. N., Naftel, S., & Berends, M. (1999). Staffing at-risk school districts in Texas: Problems and prospects. RAND Corporation. Retrieved from; See also: Henke, R. R., Zahn, L., & Carroll, C. D. (2001). Attrition of new teachers among recent college graduates: Comparing occupational stability among 1992-93 graduates who taught and those who worked in other occupations (NCES 2001-189). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from