PACE Event

Salary Incentives and Teacher Quality: The role of compensation in teacher recruitment and retention

February 15, 2013
11:30am to 1:00pm

Research consistently shows that teacher quality is a powerful determinant of student achievement gains, yet, urban school districts often struggle to staff their schools with qualified teachers. This problem seems to begin with teacher recruitment. In order to improve teacher recruitment, a popular intervention for urban school districts is raising teacher salaries to improve the school district’s attractiveness within the local labor market. Yet little is known about the effectiveness of such interventions. In this study, the author investigates changes in teacher recruitment in one urban school district as a result of a salary increase. Studying a policy in the San Francisco Unified School District, the author shows that a differential salary increase can improve a school district’s attractiveness within the local teacher labor market and increase both the size and quality of the teacher applicant pool, having the potential to increase the quality of new-hires.



Susanna Loeb

Heather Hough

With education budgets under increasing stress it is more important now than ever to understand the extent to which teacher salary policies can help to make the distribution of teachers across schools and school districts more equitable, and thus improve the quality of instruction for students with the greatest needs. In this seminar Susanna Loeb and Heather Hough will present evidence on the effect of a differential salary increase on teacher recruitment and retention in the San Francisco Unified School District. Their evidence shows that the policies implemented in SFUSD following the approval of a local parcel tax initiative helped to improve the district’s attractiveness within the regional labor market for teachers, increasing both the size and quality of the teacher applicant pool. These findings suggest that even relatively small changes in compensation policies may be effective as a lever for redistributing teachers, which is encouraging given the substantially unequal sorting of teacher quality across California’s schools and school districts.