Differential Pay: Wisconsin

Retaining Effective Teachers Policy


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

Meets goal in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Differential Pay: Wisconsin results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/yearbook/state/WI-Differential-Pay-9

Analysis of Wisconsin's policies

Wisconsin does not support differential pay by which a teacher can earn additional compensation by teaching certain subjects. However, the state has no regulatory language that would directly block districts from providing differential pay.

A teacher can earn additional pay by working in schools classified as high-needs. Teachers who are National Board Certified are eligible to receive $2,000 in the first year of certification and a $2,500 annual supplement for the remaining nine years of certification. Those teachers who are teaching in schools where at least 60 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches may receive an additional $2,500 per year.


Recommendations for Wisconsin

Support differential pay initiatives for effective teachers in subject shortage areas.
Wisconsin should encourage districts to link compensation to district needs. Such policies can help districts achieve a more equitable distribution of teachers.

State response to our analysis

Wisconsin recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis.

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:

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