Compensation for Educators in Disadvantaged Schools

Competitive compensation, when working in collaboration with other reforms along the career continuum, can impact educator recruitment, retention, evaluation, and professional development systems to help improve teacher recruitment and retention, particularly in disadvantaged schools. Implementing competitive compensation systems requires the strategic coordination of several components, including the following:

  • Quality data systems
  • Key stakeholder buy-in
  • Multiple measures of effectiveness
  • Valid and reliable measures of teacher or leader and student performance
  • Teacher and leader professional development
  • Fiscally and programmatically sustainable program

What Can I Do to Support Equitable Access to Great Teachers and Leaders?

Strategies to Consider

  • Consider Teacher and Leader Perspectives on Compensation Reform

    Survey effective teachers and leaders currently working in high-poverty schools to determine what effect, if any, financial compensation has on their decisions to move to or stay in high-need schools.

  • Provide Professional Benefits for Teachers in High-Needs Schools

    Provide nonmonetary incentives (e.g., reduced class size, teacher aides, increased autonomy, career ladders) for teachers who work in high-need schools. 
  • Research Best Practices for Encouraging Recruitment and Retention

    Examine local and national incentive-based programs for lessons learned in encouraging teachers to stay in or move to high-need schools. 

  • Support Innovative Recruitment and Retention Incentives

    Support local innovation related to recruitment and retention incentives (e.g., housing incentives and local market-based salary bonuses) as well as career advancement opportunities that encourage effective teachers to stay in hard-to-staff schools. 


  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Strategic Staffing Initiative

    Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (North Carolina) established the Strategic Staffing Initiative, which moves teams of administrators and teachers to high-need schools. Under this initiative, effective principals are identified and allowed to select effective members of their current staffs to take with them to a high-need school.
  • Houston’s Effective Teacher Pipeline: Workshop Outlines Plans for Improving Low-Performing Schools

    The Houston (Texas) Independent School District (HISD) established the Effective Teacher Pipeline project to address concerns voiced by many teachers about working conditions in high-need schools. HISD is concentrating on a small number of high-need schools to increase the number of effective teachers on those campuses. The intent is to create supportive school cultures by placing several effective teachers at each school. Relocating teachers are given a financial incentive, professional development, and leadership opportunities.
  • Kansas Teacher Service Scholarship

    The state provides financial assistance to students pursuing bachelor’s degree programs, as well as current licensed teachers, to pursue endorsements or master’s degrees in hard-to-staff subject areas. The scholarships are available to those teachers who plan to serve a hard-to-staff geographic area at the rate of one year of service for each award year.
  • Ohio Teacher Incentive Plan

    As part of its Race to the Top initiatives, Ohio provides participating local education agencies with the opportunity to apply for funds to support a teacher incentive plan of up to $7,500 per teacher to address access to great teachers and leaders. The funding may be used for the following: 

    • Relocation and/or retention bonuses
    • Reduced class size
    • Loan forgiveness programs
    • Differentiated pay for effective teachers who assume leadership roles
    • Hiring teachers in shortage areas
    • A combination of options
  • Pittsburgh’s Promise-Readiness Corps

    As part of Pittsburgh’s larger Empowering Effective Teachers plan initiative, which includes increasing the exposure of students with high needs to highly effective teachers as a strategic goal, the Promise-Ready Corps (PRC) is a group of ninth- and 10th-grade teachers who have been identified as effective and who will loop with cohorts of students for two years, providing high-quality core instruction and additional advising (an extra 44-minute period). PRC teachers are compensated financially for the extended day and are eligible for a cohort bonus that is shared among team members. They also are provided extra time to collaborate with their PRC colleagues. PRC is currently in place in eight high-need high schools in Pittsburgh.
  • The Equity Project Charter School

    The Equity Project (TEP) Charter School in New York City reallocates the regular public school budget to enable the school to pay teachers $125,000 as a recruitment and retention strategy. A recent study by Mathematica Policy Research found a promising impact on student achievement. TEP has adopted its own three Rs for teachers:

    • Rigorous qualifications. Teachers are experts in subject matter and teaching, curriculum development ability, and verbal skills.
    • Redefined expectations. Student achievement is improved by focusing on a professional workday that includes daily peer observations and coteaching, a work year that includes a six-week summer development institute, and professional growth through a mandatory sabbatical once every five or six years.
    • Revolutionary compensation. Teachers receive salaries of $125,000 and a bonus based on schoolwide performance.