The following is a company-submitted press release and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Spaces4Learning.

How Are Districts and States Using Pay to Staff High-Need Schools and Subjects?

Paying teachers more to work in high-need schools and subjects—known as “differential pay”—is one of the most powerful tools school districts have on hand to secure the teachers they need. 

 While offering a higher salary for positions in high-need schools and subjects is most compelling, it is not the only differential pay action available. A review of a sample of districts and all 50 states plus D.C. shows that some entrepreneurial education leaders have adopted creative differential pay policies, offering incentives that range from up to a $20,000 bonus in D.C. for teaching in a high-needs school to mortgage assistance for teachers in both high-need schools and subjects in Connecticut. 

 In working to adopt and implement differential pay policies, both districts and states should look to these examples from their peers. 


  • A review of the 100 biggest school districts in the country along with the biggest district in each state shows that two out of three districts have some sort of policy that supports additional pay for teachers in high-need schools and of high-need subjects.
  • For both high-need schools and subjects, the most common way that districts provide additional pay is through an annual supplement rather than by raising teachers’ salaries.
  • The districts in this sample are nearly twice as likely to have policies to pay teachers more to teach high-need subjects, such as STEM, ESL, and special education, than to pay teachers more to work in high-need schools.
  • Among all 50 states and the District of Columbia, 35 have some policy regarding differential pay, leaving 16 with none. These include incentives such as loan forgiveness, mortgage assistance, and additional pay in the form of stipends or bonuses or salary awards.
  • States are more likely than districts to have policies encouraging teachers to work in high-need schools, but are less likely to have policies for teachers of high-need subjects. 

To explore the NCTQ Teacher Contract Database, visit: