Differential Pay: Rhode Island

2011 Retaining Effective Teachers Policy

Goal

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

Meets a small part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Differential Pay: Rhode Island results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/RI-Differential-Pay-9

Analysis of Rhode Island's policies

Rhode Island supports incentives that teachers can earn by teaching certain subjects. Loans may be partially or completed canceled for licensed teachers of mathematics, science, foreign languages, bilingual education or any other field of expertise where there is a shortage of qualified teachers.

Rhode Island does not support differential pay for those teaching in high-needs schools. However, the state has no regulatory language that would directly block districts from providing differential pay. 

Citation

Recommendations for Rhode Island

Support differential pay initiatives for effective teachers in high-needs schools.
Rhode Island should encourage districts to link compensation to district needs. Such policies can help districts achieve a more equitable distribution of teachers.

Expand differential pay initiative for teachers in subject shortage areas.
Although the state's loan forgiveness program is a desirable recruitment and retention tool for teachers early in the career, Rhode Island should expand its program to include those already part of the teaching pool. A salary differential is an attractive incentive for every teacher, not just those with education debt. 

State response to our analysis

Rhode Island recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

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