Policy brief

Incentives for Attracting and Retaining K–12 Teachers

Lessons for Early Education
Wendi Laurence
Guardians of Honor, LLC
Bob Hass
University of California, Berkeley
Bruce Fuller
University of California, Berkeley
Mary Gardner Clagett
Jobs for the Future
Gerald C. Hayward
Policy Analysis for California Education
Emlei Kuboyama
Stanford University


California previously embarked on a sizable experiment aimed at reducing the steady turnover of preschool teachers and allied childcare staff. The state’s taxpayers are now investing over $21 million annually in these county-run programs, offering salary supplements and incentives for professional development. These local experiments are blossoming largely in isolation from larger efforts in the public schools that also attempt to attract and retain a quality workforce.

In just the past decade, nearly half of all states in the U.S. have mounted efforts to retain and boost the quality of preschool and childcare staff. These initiatives are detailed in recent reports and informative websites. This policy brief places these programs in the broader context of K–12 reforms, and examines programs both in California and elsewhere in the U.S.

While the brief is specifically aimed at early childhood education planners and policymakers, educators at all levels will find new information about experimental efforts and lessons on systemwide reform. What most distinguishes K–12 reforms from those in early education is their scale and scope. K–12 reforms have been underway for a longer period of time, are more numerous and diverse, and usually better-funded.

Suggested citationLaurence, W., Hass, B., Burr, E., Fuller, B., Clagett, M. G., Hayward, G., & Kuboyama, E. (2002, November). Incentives for attracting and retaining K–12 teachers: Lessons for early education [Policy brief]. Policy Analysis for California Education. https://edpolicyinca.org/publications/incentives-attracting-and-retaining-k-12-teachers