High-Need Schools and Subjects: Virginia

2017 Teacher Compensation Policy

Goal

The state should support differential pay for effective teaching in shortage and high-need areas. This goal was consistent between 2015 and 2017.

Meets

Analysis of Virginia's policies

Shortage-subject areas: Virginia's Middle School Teachers Corps 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 shortage-subject areas. Virginia also provides incentive awards to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers, with preference given to teachers assigned to hard-to-staff or low-performing schools.

High-need schools: Virginia 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 teaching at high-need schools. 

Citation

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 Virginia's most accomplished teachers to low-performing schools.

State response to our analysis

Virginia recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.














Updated: December 2017

How we graded

8B: High-Need Schools and Subjects

  • Shortage-Subject Areas: The state should support differential pay for effective teaching in shortage-subject areas.
  • High-Need Schools: The state should support differential pay for effective teaching in high-need schools.
Shortage-Subject Areas
One-half of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if it explicitly supports differential pay in subject areas where there is a demonstrated educator shortage.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it partially supports differential benefits in subject areas where there is a demonstrated educator shortage (e.g., tuition reimbursement).
High-Need Schools
One-half of the total goal score is earned based on the following:

  • One-half credit: The state will earn one-half of a point if it explicitly supports differential pay for teachers in high-need schools.
  • One-quarter credit: The state will earn one-quarter of a point if it partially supports differential benefits for teachers in high-need schools (e.g., tuition reimbursement).



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.[1] 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.[2] Short of providing direct support, states can also use policy levers to indicate to districts that differential pay is not only permissible but necessary.


[1] For research that suggests 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, see: Feng, L., & Sass, T. R. (2016). Teacher quality and teacher mobility. Education Finance and Policy. Retrieved from http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/1001506-teacher-quality-teacher-mobility.pdf; Another study found that the least effective teachers in high-poverty schools were considerably less effective than the least effective teachers in low-poverty schools. See: Sass, T. R., Hannaway, J., Xu, Z., Figlio, D. N., & Feng, L. (2012). Value added of teachers in high-poverty schools and lower poverty schools. Journal of Urban Economics, 72(2), 104-122. Retrieved from http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/1001469-calder-working-paper-52.pdf
[2] Clotfelter, C., Glennie, E., Ladd, H., & Vigdor, J. (2008). Would higher salaries keep teachers in high-poverty schools? Evidence from a policy intervention in North Carolina. Journal of Public Economics, 92(5), 1352-1370. Retrieved from
Would Higher Salaries Keep Teachers in High-Poverty Schools? Evidence from a Policy Intervention in North Carolina; Kowal, J., Hassel, B. C., & Hassel, E. A. (2008). Financial incentives for hard-to-staff positions. Center for American Progress. Retrieved from https://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/issues/2008/11/pdf/hard_to_staff.pdf; 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: Kirby, S. N., Berends, M., & Naftel, S. (1999). Supply and demand of minority teachers in Texas: Problems and prospects. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 21(1), 47-66.