Matthew Ladner, Mark S. Francis, and Gergory E. Stone
The Goldwater Institute
April 2009

This 26-page report packs quite a bit of punch for its length. It presents a teacher salary model that uses merit pay and class size bonuses to increase teacher salaries--and thus, we're told, teacher quality. Their plan has a few components. First, administrators should recruit teachers from the top 5 percent of college students and use value-added assessment to identify "master teachers" in a charter-school setting (the only current structure that would currently such a compensation system within public education). Having made public the performance of each individual teacher, these master teachers would be offered extra cash for every additional child they took into the classroom. The authors predict that it would be possible to pay teachers six-figure salaries if we assume class sizes in the low 30s; compensation would be based on a two-thirds to one-thirds ratio of per-pupil dollars, with teachers getting the larger share and the school using the smaller piece to cover marginal increases in facility costs for each additional student (e.g., desks, chairs, etc.). Having already given these "rockstar" teachers a potential salary boost, Ladner et al. propose four possible merit pay models that would reward the highest performing teachers based on their value-added assessment results, further compensating them for a job well done--and attracting even more high-quality candidates to the profession. This makes sense because teacher quality is the number one determinant of student success--and having fewer very high quality well-paid teachers would prove a better use of resources than many mediocre less-well-paid ones. Pieces of this multi-part scheme can already be seen in other education systems: South Korea, for one, and within our own borders, Catholic schools and highly successful charter schools. But melding these chunks together, conclude the authors, would create a truly excellent system. Read more here.

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