The Talent Teacher Initiative: Early Impacts

Mathematica and the Institute of Education Sciences released a joint report earlier this month on the implementation experience and intermediate impacts of the Talent Transfer Initiative (TTI), a pilot transfer-incentive strategy launched in seven school districts.  TTI offered $20,000 to each teacher who transferred from a high-performing to a low-performing school, and the program helped hard-to-staff schools fill 90% of their vacancies.  The goal was to expand disadvantaged students’ access to the most effective teachers.

The report, Moving Teachers: Implementation of Transfer Incentives in Seven Districts, discusses the early impacts of TTI on teacher hiring and support in seven large and diverse districts (including Mobile County (AL) Schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC) Schools, and Houston Independent School District.  The study revealed that:

1. A large pool of candidates (16 per slot in this study) is needed to yield an adequate number of successful transfers.

2. In addition to their high value-added scores, TTI teachers had an average of five years’ more teaching experience and were significantly more likely to have a post-graduate degree than were teachers who would normally have been selected to fill vacancies at the low-achieving schools.

3. On average, TTI teachers moved to classrooms with a lower percentage of white students (12 versus 30 percent in their original schools), a higher percentage of Hispanic students (42 versus 31 percent) and a higher percentage of low-income students (89 versus 64 percent).

4. There was no evidence that TTI changed the way students were assigned to teachers within schools.

5. Principals in receiving schools did not report significant impacts, positive or negative, on teacher collaboration, trust and sharing of ideas.

6. TTI teachers used less mentoring and spent more time mentoring their colleagues (25 minutes per week, on average, compared to less than one minute per week for non-TTI teachers), even though there were no specific requirements for TTI transfers to serve as mentors.

In a future report, expected to be released in 2013, Mathematica and IES will estimate the impacts of TTI on student test scores and retention of high-performing teachers. This report will include results from all seven districts participating in this phase of the study as well as from three other districts that were added in 2010 but were not included in the current report (Los Angeles Unified School District, Sacramento City Unified School District and Miami-Dade County Schools).

To read the full report, please visit