Redesigning Teacher Pay: A System for the Next Generation of Educators

Jack Byers

Susan Moore Johnson and John P. Papay
Economic Policy Institute
2009

This publication is really two reports in one: a new framework for understanding various existing pay-for-performance schemes and a proposal for a new system of performance-based pay. According to authors Johnson and Papay, there are three crucial differences between merit pay systems: how merit is assessed (by in-person evaluations, student test scores, or a combination of both), whether merit is judged against an objective standard or relative to other teachers, and whether merit is rewarded at the individual or school level. Then, in the second half, Johnson and Papay outline their own vision for teacher-pay reform: the “Tiered Pay-and-Career Structure.” Featuring four levels, this is intended to be a way for school districts to use “performance-based pay as part of a well conceived human capital strategy for developing teachers through all stages of their career” instead of “simply [appending] new components to [the] current compensation system.” The tiers work as follows: 1. probationary teachers, 2. teachers with tenure or those who have achieved permanent status, 3. master teachers and school-based leaders, and 4. school and district leaders. This structure, argue the authors, would be a way for teachers to earn more pay based on individual merit (through promotion rather than monetary bonuses), while simultaneously setting up a support system for teachers where the most experienced and best teachers aide their younger, less-experienced colleagues and rewarding merit pay bonuses on the school level. Most teachers would never rise above tier 2. While this system gives a nod to recognizing individual accomplishments, it ignores the varying levels of talent that could exist in that level. What about excellent teachers who are not interested in the extra administrative duties of tier 3? You can purchase a copy here.

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