High-Need Schools and Subjects: Virginia

Teacher Compensation Policy

Goal

The state should support differential pay for effective teaching in shortage and high-need areas. This goal is reorganized for 2021.

Meets
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2021). High-Need Schools and Subjects: Virginia results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/VA-High--Need-Schools-and-Subjects-96

Analysis of Virginia's policies

Shortage-subject areas: Virginia's Middle School Teachers Corps provides incentive payments of $5,000 per year for experienced math teachers to teach in middle schools where math is an area identified for improvement. In addition, the state has established the Virginia Teaching Scholarship Loan Program to provide financial support to those interested in pursuing a teaching career in one of the top five critical shortage teaching areas.

Virginia also offers an Alternative Teacher Compensation Grant opportunity for school districts to explore alternative teacher compensation approaches that "move away from tenure-based step increases toward compensation systems based on teacher performance and student progress." Priority is given to schools with high numbers of at-risk students needing qualified teachers in hard-to-staff subjects. In September 2020, the General Assembly appropriated $15,000 for planning grants in fiscal year 2021, each one not to exceed $5,000.

High-need schools: Virginia's Middle School Teachers Corps defines eligible schools as those having a combined overall proficiency and growth rate for mathematics at or below 77%. 

Virginia's Alternative Teacher Compensation Grant opportunity gives priority to schools with high numbers of at-risk students needing qualified teachers in hard-to-staff subjects.

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

Updated: March 2021

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).
**States will lose a quarter point overall for lack of funding that, in practice, fails to support differential pay for teachers in high-need schools and/or shortage subject areas. 


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.