Performance-Pay for Teachers: Designing a System that Students Deserve

Center for Teaching Quality
April 2007

Last year the Center for Teaching Quality convened 18 accomplished educators from around the nation to contribute their insights on teacher pay. The result is this clear and thoughtful outline of some of the most important teacher-pay issues. A major strength of the report, beyond its strong support for dumping the single salary schedule, is its emphasis on local flexibility. Unlike some recent "blue-ribbon" panels (see here and here), this group of teachers recognizes that "Teacher incentives must be meaningful in the context of the communities where they are offered." This means that certain districts, or even individual schools, might provide different incentives to attract different kinds of teachers according to their needs; in short, it is, as they say, a "market-driven model." Also valuable are their insights on professional development. Under the single-salary schedule, teachers are often rewarded for attending workshops or getting advanced degrees that have little relevance to their classroom teaching. This report calls for rewarding teachers who acquire knowledge and skills that "meet the specific, identified needs of the students they currently serve" and the "strategic goals of local schools." To identify such needs, schools and districts might consider "demographic trends, skills likely to be valued in the marketplace, and community aspirations." But, once again, the report emphasizes that the ultimate responsibility for ironing out the details of such policies lies at the local level. By taking this reasoned approach, and by soliciting the input of actual teachers, this report offers some hearty food for thought. See background on the group of 18 here and read the report here.