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Changes to Teacher Pay Structure
posted by: Alix | November 09, 2010, 05:59 PM   

For years, rigid union contracts have put teachers on very structured pay schedules that are predetermined based on years in service and level of education. On the heels of the recent trends in education reform, several districts around the country are experimenting with different methods of restructuring teacher pay.

All of these new pay structures have a larger focus on tying pay to performance as well as taking on more responsibilities in the system. In Eagle County, Colorado, teachers' raises are determined as up to 4 percent of salary, based on results from their annual evaluation. They can also earn one-time bonuses worth another 4 percent of salary based on an index of student-achievement growth and stipends for working in high-need schools.

In Baltimore, teachers will soon vote on a similar system where teachers receive incremental salary boosts for earning at least 12 "achievement units" by getting good evaluations, taking on additional roles, and taking professional development courses. Moving to a substantially higher salary band requires satisfying a formal review by a peer committee, with no pay increases based on years in the system.

These systems have been revered in reform circles and have been gaining national headlines. In 2008, 9.5 percent of total teachers' salaries were devoted to paying them for obtaining masters degrees, and 27 percent for years in the system, according to research by Stanford University economist Eric A. Hanushek. The gap between teacher pay and results is telling in these results. The goals of the new compensation plans according to supporters are to better align those dollars with student achievement and to provide help for teachers to achieve them.

"There are no road maps out there, so districts have to develop their own systems," said Michael Podgursky, a professor of economics at the University of Missouri in Columbia. "There's no reason to believe that one size fits all. The plans will probably adapt to the labor markets and circumstances of the places they're operating in, and the kinds of people they're attracting."

Certainly each system is different, and as stakeholders in the debate, teachers should be able to voice their concerns with certain aspects of these plans.

According to the AAE member survey conducted this summer, member educators support certain types of differentiated and performance pay plans. More than 80 percent of respondents to the survey supported educators being paid more for taking on additional roles and responsibilities in their schools, and 79 percent supported educators being paid more to teach in high-need schools such as inner city or rural schools.

The debate over restructuring teacher pay will no doubt continue as lawmakers continue to push for reform and higher accountability. The question is whether this is a trend or the wave of the future for educators across the country.

Has your school adopted a similar plan? Is restructuring teacher pay necessary to reform education?
Comment below.

Comments (1)Add Comment
written by Ryan, Maine, November 09, 2010

It seems to me like the Baltimore plan makes the most sense because it incorporates a good number of factors that go in to making a better teacher. Tying pay solely to any one factor (be it student achievement or years in the system) just seems disrespectful to me.

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