impact banner 2

Teacher Incentive Fund

Research has shown that high need schools and their students have fewer effective teachers and principals than more affluent schools and students. This lack of access to effective instruction creates a substantial barrier to the rapid academic growth necessary for closing achievement gaps.

In 2006, the Congress approved a grant program entitled The Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) to increase teacher and principal effectiveness in high-need schools. TIF supports states and districts to improve the way they recruit, develop, support, evaluate and compensate teachers and principals so that students in high-need schools are taught by effective and highly effective educators.

TIF encourages grantees to include multiple measures of teacher performance, such as multiple classroom observations during the school year and measures of student academic growth over time. TIF also supports grantees in providing additional compensation for teachers who take on additional roles or responsibilities; increasing the number of effective teachers in hard-to-staff schools and subjects; and demonstrating support from a majority of teachers at the schools.

In his remarks to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in March 2009, President Obama cited TAP as an example of a successful system for increasing teacher effectiveness in high-need schools. Obama proposed to rename TIF the Teacher and Leader Innovation Fund (TLIF) in the FY2015 appropriations bill for the Department of Education. 

In addition to support from Congress and key education organizations and leaders including the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (NCTAF), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association (NGA), among others, 15 leading business groups supported the establishment of TIF in Tapping America's Potential: The Education for Innovation Initiative, a report noting the crucial need to maintain our country's competitiveness in science and technology.

TIF is cited as "particularly crucial for helping to address shortages of math and science teachers."

In his confirmation hearings before the House and Senate education committees in January 2009, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan indicated his support for TIF. In Secretary Duncan's May 2009 testimony before the House of Representatives, he further outlined his support for efforts to increase teacher effectiveness and to draw more highly effective teachers and principals to high-need schools.

The Teacher Incentive Fund has funded 130 grantees. Grantees include schools, districts and states using TIF funds to reform compensation systems to provide additional pay for teachers and principals who raise student achievement and close the achievement gap in some of America's highest-need schools. A number of TIF grant recipients are implementing TAP. Descriptions of these projects can be found on the Center for Educator Compensation Reform (CECR) website.

Two reports have been released describing the impact of TIF projects on the student achievement growth of students in high-need schools supported by TIF. The first was funded by the Joyce and Gates Foundations and can be found here. The second report followed up on these sites and others to illustrate how the program has increased teacher effectiveness and student achievement, as well as increasing access to highly effective teachers and principals for high-need students and schools. 

Additional studies by education experts have highlighted the ways that TIF grants have helped districts to increase their level of instructional excellence and to build faculties with stronger instructional skills. The Education Trust released a report entitled Building and Sustaining Teaching Talent in 2010 highlighting how TIF grantee Ascension Parish, Louisiana, used TAP to significantly increase the percentage of the most effective educators serving students in their highest-need schools. 

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Education set aside a portion of TIF funds for a TIF STEM grant competition. Two Superintendents in Iowa whose districts are implementing TIF STEM grants described how this initiative is supporting their efforts to build systems supporting teacher leadership and compensation in a June 2013 op-ed in the Des Moines Register. The Iowa legislature has passed legislation providing funds to districts to pursue similar reforms to those being piloted by these TIF districts.

Other TIF grantees include Knox County, Tennessee, which is using its TIF grant in partnership with NIET to implement a new system for teacher evaluation and support based on the TAP instructional rubric. The state of Tennessee selected the TAP instructional rubric as the basis for the new statewide Tennessee Educator Acceleration Model (TEAM) evaluation system in 2011. NIET provided training and certification to 5,000 evaluators in Tennessee as that new system rolled out, and continues to provide support for Tennessee teachers through an online portal that provides resources for professional growth.

Initially championed by former Representative Ralph Regula (R-OH), then-chairman of the House Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee, and a bipartisan group of legislators, the Teacher Incentive Fund was approved at $99 million in 2006. Support increased over time, and TIF was funded at $290 million in fiscal 2014.

In March 2007, Representative Tom Price (R-GA) and a bipartisan group of 16 cosponsors first introduced the Teacher Incentive Fund Act (H.R. 1761). The bill proposed amending the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 to authorize funding of TIF grants. Senator Lamar Alexander introduced legislation authorizing TIF in the Senate. The ESEA has not yet been reauthorized.