The intervention is designed to proceed within each district according to the following steps. The first step is to conduct a value-added analysis* of student test scores to identify the highest-performing teachers, defined as the top 20 percent based on a value-added measure of teachers in tested grades and subjects in each district. The second step is to classify schools as “potential receiving” or “potential sending” schools. Potential receiving schools are those with the lowest achievement in the district, based on school-average test scores in the most recent year, and, in some cases, rankings on school accountability. The rare exceptions that are already participating in a comparable intervention are exempted. The rest of the schools in the district are potential sending schools.
The third step is recruitment of (1) eligible high-performing teachers in sending schools, whom we refer to as “transfer candidates,” and, simultaneously, (2) principals of receiving schools. The highest-performing teachers (identified in the first step) in potential sending schools are offered a series of transfer incentive payments, totaling $20,000 over two years, to transfer into and remain in one of the receiving schools in their district. The offer is made to these teachers, known as “transfer candidates,” in the spring, at which point they are invited to apply to the program.
At the same time, principals of potential receiving schools are invited to an information session and asked to identify likely teaching vacancies in targeted grades and subjects. To be considered for inclusion in TTI, principals must volunteer a vacancy. Eligibility is based on grade level and subject of the vacancy. A site manager in each district helps principals fill the targeted vacancies by providing information about transfer candidates and arranging and encouraging interviews. This extra hiring support is in addition to the TTI transfer incentive.
Next, applicants must interview with and be offered a position by the receiving-school principal and then voluntarily transfer to qualify for the transfer incentive. To improve the probability of matching high-performing teachers with low-achieving schools, the implementation team works with each district to finalize offers and acceptances by early summer.
Finally, the transfer teachers participate in a half-day orientation just before the start of the school year. Because they are selected on the basis of their performance in the classroom, it is assumed that they do not require additional formal support beyond what teachers normally receive. To facilitate the transition, however, the site manager provides informal support and answers any questions throughout the two school years of the intervention period. TTI teachers who fill study-assigned vacancies receive their first incentive payment after the orientation, and those who remain during the intervention period in the positions into which they transferred receive incentive payments in December and June, for a total of $20,000.
Teachers who are identified as highest-performing but who are already teaching in low-achieving (potential receiving) schools are not eligible to transfer, but they are offered a retention stipend of $10,000 for staying at their schools over the same two-year period as transfer teachers.
*Value-added measures seek to describe the contribution that teachers make (the value that they add) to student achievement growth, holding constant factors outside the teacher’s control, such as student background and prior learning (McCaffrey et al. 2004; Lipscomb et al. 2010).
Lipscomb, Stephen, Bing-ru Teh, Brian Gill, Hanley Chiang, and Antoniya Owens. “Teacher and Principal Value-Added: Research Findings and Implementation Practices.” Cambridge, MA: Mathematica Policy Research, September 2010.
McCaffrey, Dan F., J. R. Lockwood, Daniel Koretz, Thomas A. Louis, and Laura Hamilton. “Models for Value-Added Modeling of Teacher Effects.” Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, vol. 29, no. 1, 2004, pp. 67–101.