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Why Pay More for Experience and Advanced Degrees?

If a rational system of teacher compensation, aimed at recruiting andretaining high-quality teachers, were designed from scratch, it is unlikelyit would bear any resemblance to the system that is currently in place.

-Professor Michael Podgursky, University of Missouri-Columbia Perhaps we should not be surprised -- the step & lane pay system is a product of the early 1900s, and was developed for a different era, and was constructed with different goals in mind. In my view, the step and lane pay system is outdated.  The incentives encourage teachers to pursue degrees and remain in the profession, neither of which seems to drive student achievement. I don't blame teachers for responding to the incentives ... if I were a teacher, I would do the same thing.  But I think teachers, parents, and tax-payers alike should recognize that the current system is not aligned with the organizational goals of our schools, and that we are devoting resources and energy to things (such as night and weekend courses) that are not helping us achieve our goals. Teaching is a complex and challenging profession.  In other challenging professions, we recognize and reward excellence through our compensation systems (and through many other means).  If an organization wants 'more' of something (be it sales, cost-saving ideas, or excellent customer service) it rewards those who contribute to those objectives, and it does so with differentiated pay, bonuses, and other monetary and psychic rewards. Is teaching so different as a profession that it is immune to the power of performance incentives?  If we want our schools to help all students grow academically and achieve their potential, shouldn't we have a pay system that identifies and rewards those who do it well?   Shouldn't we have incentives to encourage great teaching? (Note:  the same argument applies to incentives for principals and administrators, almost all of whom have no linkage between their compensation and student achievement.) Takeaways:

  1. Incentives are widely used to align employee efforts and behaviors with organizational goals

  2. In public schools, we pay teachers for longevity in the profession, and for completing additional post-secondary education.

  3. There is strong evidence that neither longevity nor graduate education has much to do with achieving our district's educational mission:  helping all student's reach their academic potential. Agree? Disagree?  Leave a comment!

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