Differential Pay: South Dakota

Retaining Effective Teachers Policy


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

Meets a small part of goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2015). Differential Pay: South Dakota results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/SD-Differential-Pay-72

Analysis of South Dakota's policies

South Dakota does not support differential pay by which a teacher can earn additional compensation by teaching at high-need schools. However, the state has no regulatory language preventing districts from providing such differential pay.

South Dakota does offer the Dakota Corps Scholarship Program, which provides full tuition and reimbursement for generally applicable fees to selected qualified applicants who promise to enter a "critical need occupation." The required number of years to work is equal to the number of years of scholarship received, plus one year. For 2015, the state has defined the following occupations as critical need: high school math teacher, high school science teacher and elementary/secondary special education teacher. 

South Dakota also offers a salary incentive for teachers who earn National Board Certification. Teachers are eligible to receive a stipend of $2,000 a year for five years. However, this type of differential pay is not tied to teaching at high-need schools. 


Recommendations for South Dakota

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

Expand differential pay initiatives for teachers in shortage subject areas.
Although the state's program is a desirable recruitment and retention tool for teachers early in their careers, South Dakota should expand its program to include those who are already part of the teaching pool. A salary differential is an attractive incentive for every teacher.

Consider tying National Board supplements to teaching in high-need schools.
This differential pay could be an incentive to attract some of South Dakota's most effective teachers to low-performing schools.

State response to our analysis

South Dakota recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis, although there is currently no funding for the National Board Certification incentives. The state added that it is undergoing a comprehensive examination of teacher pay and school funding through the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force, which will be making recommendations in the 2016 legislative session. South Dakota also noted that it does not necessarily agree that NCTQ’s recommendations in this area best meet the needs of the state.

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.