Differential Pay: Virginia

Retaining Effective Teachers Policy


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

Meets goal
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2013). Differential Pay: Virginia results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/VA-Differential-Pay-23

Analysis of Virginia's policies

Virginia offers incentives earned to teach certain subjects. As part of its Middle School Teachers Corps, the state provides incentives for experienced middle school math teachers to teach in schools designated as "at-risk in mathematics." In addition, each year the state releases the top 10 "critical shortage teaching areas." It uses this list to determine candidate eligibility for its scholarship loan program, which offers loan repayment for teachers in subject-shortage areas. During the 2014 school year, the state will have a pilot program to provide incentives to middle and high schools teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Virginia also supports differential pay for those teaching in high-need schools. The state encourages local school boards to offer teachers in hard-to-staff, low-income schools incentives such as "increased compensation, improved retirement benefits...increased deferred compensation...relocation expenses, bonuses and other incentives as may be determined by the board."

In addition, Virginia has established a Strategic Compensation Grant Initiative to award incentive payments to teachers. Local school divisions may submit proposals to apply for a competitive grant process. Proposals may include pay incentives to effective teachers with essential expertise who are willing to transfer to hard-to-staff positions or low-performing schools or to reward effective teachers who are assigned to teach in critical shortages areas.

Teachers who are National Board Certified are eligible to receive an initial award of $5,000, with subsequent awards of $2,500. However, this type of differential pay is not tied to high-need schools or subject-area shortages.


Recommendations for Virginia

Consider tying National Board supplements to teaching in high-need schools.

This differential pay could be an incentive to attract some of the state's most effective teachers to low-performing schools.

State response to our analysis

Virginia was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.

Research rationale

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.

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.