Top teachers could earn up to £70,000 a year under the new performance-related pay system, according to a new report.
The best performing teachers could be earning higher wages within a much quicker time frame under the format, which is expected to improve standards but must be fair, transparent and reward real excellence, think-tank Policy Exchange warned.
In a paper released today, it welcomes the move - which came into effect in September - and notes that while pay in itself is not the primary motivator for the majority of teachers, those who perform best should be rewarded.
But it also recommends the system include an evaluation based on several measures, not just test or exam scores, which takes place over more than one year to reduce volatility in results and to allow staff to adjust to the new assessments.
Financial rewards should be based on increases in base salary, rather than through bonuses, and performance-related pay must be used as a real reward for excellence and not as a way of holding down the overall pay bill, it said.
According to the Department for Education, qualified teachers in maintained schools currently earn a minimum of £21,804, or £27,270 in inner London. Senior teachers can make up to £57,520, or £64,677 in the capital, while head teachers can reach a salary of between £42,803 and £113,303.
Under a performance-related pay system, rather than a time-based system, top teachers would be able to earn as much as £70,000 a year without leaving the classroom within an estimated five to eight years. The paper says that this could attract more graduates to the profession, driving up the quality of teaching in schools across the country.
The paper found that that despite vocal objections from the unions, most teachers welcome the principle behind it. A YouGov poll for the report found that 89% of teachers want to be paid based on the quality of their teaching.
The report said that performance-related pay offers three potential benefits - to create a stronger culture of professional development amongst existing teachers and to incentivise them to improve the quality of their teaching.
Thirdly, it should attract and lead to the retention of more high performing graduates into the profession. In the UK, more than half of all teachers leave the profession after five years and there are still only two applicants for every job vacancy, compared to 10 in Finland and six in Singapore.
The report notes that performance-related pay has been implemented in other places without adverse effects for teachers or students, most notably in Shanghai, which recently topped the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Programme for International Student Assessment 2013 ratings.
Jonathan Simons, head of education at Policy Exchange, said: "Teaching is one of the most important jobs in this country. Yet for too long we have been running systems that seem to suggest exactly the opposite - treating teachers the same in how we recruit, train, develop, appraise and pay them, regardless of their performance.
"We want to treat teachers like professionals. And we want schools to have the flexibility to reward and retain their best teachers and to use them to improve outcomes for young people. That's why we believe that performance-related pay is necessary in English schools, and why we think so much of the ideological opposition to the reforms is misguided.
"But we agree with the thoughtful teachers who support this in principle but are cautious about how this will be implemented. To see the benefits we need to have a carefully designed system that works properly and that is transparent and fair."
Matthew Robb, author of the report and partner in the Parthenon Group's global education practice, said: "A well-designed and implemented performance-related pay system could have great benefits for English schools.
"But many schools need better advice, guidance and templates in order to implement successfully. The critical area to get right is not just changes to pay but also high quality, developmentally-oriented, performance assessment and appraisal."
A Department for Education spokesman said: "Our performance-related pay reforms are designed so that good teachers can be paid more.
"This report shows that 89% of teachers support this policy and highlights why paying good teachers more is so important."