The state should support differential pay for effective teaching in shortage and high-need areas.
West Virginia does not support differential pay by which a teacher can earn additional compensation by teaching certain subjects. However, the state offers a loan assistance program to teachers who agree to teach a subject area of critical need or in a school or geographic area identified as an area of critical need. Each teacher is eligible to receive up to $3,000 annually, with an overall cap of $15,000.
West Virginia does support differential pay for those teaching at high-need schools. Recent legislation provides a teacher-mentoring increment for classroom teachers with National Board certification who teach and mentor at persistently low-performing schools. The law also permits districts to use other available funds, federal and local, to provide incentives for highly qualified teachers to teach at low-performing schools.
West Virginia Code 18A-4-1; 18A-4-2C (HB 2381-2015)
Expand differential pay initiatives for teachers in shortage-subject areas.
Although the state's loan forgiveness program is a desirable recruitment and retention tool for teachers early in their careers, West Virginia 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, not just those with education debt.
West Virginia was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis.
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.