Differential Pay: Oklahoma

Retaining Effective Teachers Policy


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

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

Analysis of Oklahoma's policies

Oklahoma supports differential pay by which a teacher can earn additional compensation by teaching certain subjects. According to state statute, "Districts shall be encouraged to provide compensation schedules to reflect district policies and circumstances, including differential pay for different subject areas." Teachers of mathematics, science or other critical-needs areas are eligible for loan forgiveness. 

Oklahoma also supports differential pay for those teaching in high-needs schools but leaves it up to the school district to determine the specifics: "Districts shall be encouraged to provide completed schedules to reflect district policies and circumstances, including...special incentives for teachers in districts with specific geographical attributes."

Teachers who are National Board Certified are eligible to receive a $5,000 annual supplement. However, this differential pay is not tied to high-needs schools or subject-area shortages.


Recommendations for Oklahoma

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

Oklahoma noted that due to budget shortfalls, the National Board Certified Teacher annual supplement was not funded for the 2011-2012 school year.

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