Recruiting New Teachers to Urban School Districts: What Incentives Will Work?


  • Anthony Thomas Milanowski University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Hope Longwell-Grice University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  • Felicia Saffold University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  • Janice Jones Cardinal Stritch University
  • Kristen Schomisch University of Pennsylvania
  • Allan Odden University of Wisconsin, Madison



teacher compensation, job choice, new teachers


Many urban districts in the United States have difficulty attracting and retaining quality teachers, yet they are often the most in need of them. In response, U.S. states and districts are experimenting with financial incentives to attract and retain high-quality teachers in high-need, low-achieving, or hard-to-staff urban schools. However, relatively little is known about how effective financial incentives are to recruit new teachers to high-need urban schools. This research explores factors that are important to the job choices of teachers in training. Focus groups were held with students at three universities, and a policy-capturing study was done using 64 job scenarios representing various levels of pay and working conditions. Focus group results suggested that: a) many pre-service teachers, even relatively late in their preparation, are not committed to a particular district and are willing to consider many possibilities, including high need schools; b) although pay and benefits were attractive to the students, loan forgiveness and subsidies for further education were also attractive; and c) small increments of additional salary did not appear as important or attractive as other job characteristics. The policy-capturing study showed that working conditions factors, especially principal support, had more influence on simulated job choice than pay level, implying that money might be better spent to attract, retain, or train better principals than to provide higher beginning salaries to teachers in schools with high-poverty or a high proportion of students of color.

Author Biography

Anthony Thomas Milanowski, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Assistant Scientist Wisconsin Center for Education Research




How to Cite

Milanowski, A. T., Longwell-Grice, H., Saffold, F., Jones, J., Schomisch, K., & Odden, A. (2009). Recruiting New Teachers to Urban School Districts: What Incentives Will Work?. International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership, 4(8).