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The Impact of a $10,000 Bonus on Special Education Teacher Shortages in Hawai‘i
We study the impact of a bonus policy implemented by Hawai‘i Public Schools starting in fall 2020 that raised the salaries of all special education teachers in the state by $10,000. We estimate that the introduction of this policy reduced the proportion of vacant special education teaching positions by 32%, or 1.2 percentage points, and the proportion of special education positions that were vacant or filled by an unlicensed teacher by 35%, or 4.0 percentage points. The bonus policy did not have significant impacts on special education teacher retention; instead, the impacts of the policy were driven almost entirely by an increase in the number of general education teachers in the state who moved into open special education teaching positions. The effects of the bonus policy were also largest in historically hard-to-staff schools in which all teachers also received “tiered school” bonuses of up to $8,000. Hawai‘i therefore represents a unique but instructive case of how strategic financial incentives can help address special education teacher shortages.
Citation: Roddy Theobald, Zeyu Xu, Allison Gilmour, Lisa Lachlan-Hache, Liz Bettini, Nathan Jones (2023). The Impact of a $10,000 Bonus on Special Education Teacher Shortages in Hawai‘i. CALDER Working Paper No. 290-0823
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