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Sunday, 17th May 2009

Charts You Can Trust -- Ladders of Success: Keeping Teacher Pay on Schedule

Charts You Can Trust -- Ladders of Success: Keeping Teacher Pay on Schedule
Source: Education Sector

When the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union, held their annual meeting in 2008, candidate Barack Obama advocated changing the teacher compensation structure from the traditional "single salary schedule"—based only on years of experience and academic credentials—to one reflecting a teacher's performance in the classroom. But Obama's mention of pay for performance elicited boos from the crowd. And similar proposals to restructure teacher pay schemes have created controversy in cities like Washington, D.C., fueled by disagreements over a reliable means to measure an individual teacher's performance and the fact that many teachers teach subjects that are not measurable by standardized tests or other objective instruments. Teacher pay should be more closely tied to an individual teacher's effectiveness in the classroom than it is today, and pay for performance can be one way to achieve that goal. But policymakers also have another option: changing the way compensation is tied to experience and credentials.

Not all single salary schedules are the same. Some are much better than others in reflecting what research tells us about how teachers gain effectiveness over the life of a career. Research shows that teachers have steep learning curves—they become much more effective in their first few years on the job and then level off. And a great deal of research shows the link between teacher effectiveness and educational credentials to be minor or nonexistent. A district designing their salary structure based on these findings can more effectively attract and reward high-quality teachers without increasing the overall amount of money spent on compensation.


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