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How To Pay Teachers?

Rossier School faculty members offer strategy advice to Congress,
as it approves a quadrupled budget to the Teacher Incentive Fund.

Obama White House priorities include improving the way the country’s teachers are compensated, with incentives for strong performance. Congress just approved a quadrupling of the federal budget for the Teacher Incentive Fund, launched during the Bush administration, which rewards teachers and administrators who raise student achievement and work in challenging schools.

Dominic Brewer of the USC Rossier School of Education, director of Policy Analysis for California Education, offered insight on teacher pay strategies at a congressional policy briefing in Washington, D.C., last week. The session, attended by dozens of congressional staffers on both sides of the aisle, was the first in a series of policy briefings the Rossier School will host on vital education topics in the coming year.

Teacher Compensation Basics

Currently, teachers are paid according to a single-salary structure that rewards those who have been around the longest or have taken a certain amount of courses. There are no financial incentives in place for teachers who make a difference in the classroom or choose to work in especially high-needs schools, and there are too many reasons for new teachers to quit.

Successful pilot programs that have implemented alternative pay structures exist in pockets around the country — in schools from Denver and Minneapolis to Austin and New York — and these examples can help inform teacher compensation policy moving forward.

Research has identified the common principles that underlie such successful school experiments:

  • Teachers are well paid.
  • Compensation provides incentives for effective professional practice.
  • The neediest children have access to highly effective teachers.
  • The most effective teachers receive more money.

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How To Pay Teachers?

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