Teacher and Leader Compensation
To understand an Opportunity Culture, start here: For excellent teachers and those aspiring to excellence, and for administrative or education policy leaders, this brief provides an overview of how an Opportunity Culture can help teachers have the well-paid, empowered profession they deserve—while helping many more students succeed.
In the U.S., STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering, and math—face urgent needs for great STEM teachers and well-educated students. An Opportunity Culture can help by extending the reach of excellent STEM teachers already in our schools and creating a teaching profession that attracts and retains these teachers through higher pay, within regular budgets, and multiple advancement opportunities. The Education Leaders’ Brief summarizes the grim facts about STEM employment and learning in the U.S. today, emerging efforts to stem the shortage of skilled teachers, and how an Opportunity Culture can help. The companion slide deck provides more statistics and graphics to explain the huge need for more and better STEM teachers; how to attract and retain great STEM teachers; and how to extend the reach of the excellent STEM teachers we already have, paying them much more within regular budgets, and giving them opportunities to lead and develop peers on the job.
This guide shows how districts can design teacher career paths that will keep excellent teachers in the classroom and extend their reach to more students, for more pay, within budget. When districts design these paths, they create opportunities for excellent teachers to reach more students directly and by leading teaching teams, for solid teachers to contribute to excellence immediately, and for all teachers to receive the support and development they deserve. The full guide walks a district through the organizing steps and details of designing Opportunity Culture pay and career paths that fit its needs and values. It includes an overview of key Opportunity Culture concepts, graphics and explanations detailing new school models and roles, and assistance for evaluating the impact of different compensation design choices. The steps guide districts to ensuring financial sustainability and designing a complete career lattice. The summary provides a brief overview and graphics that show how pay and career paths work at a glance.
In this report for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Public Impact takes an in-depth look at principal hiring practices in five urban districts. Despite making improvements, our primary finding is that principal hiring practices continue to fall short of what is needed, effectively causing needy schools to lose out on leaders with the potential to be great. So what to do? Districts must improve their hiring practices to take a more active approach to principal recruitment, evaluate candidates against the competencies and skills that successful principals are known to possess, carefully design a placement process that matches schools’ needs with candidates’ strengths, and continually evaluate hiring efforts to ensure that they are effectively recruiting, selecting, and placing the leaders that schools depend on for success. Our research also suggests that better hiring practices alone are only part of the solution; districts must also re-imagine the principal’s role so that it is a job that talented leaders want and are equipped to execute successfully. See the companion infographic for a quick summary.
This brief estimates the impact of a statewide implementation of Opportunity Culture models, using North Carolina as an example. Impacts estimated include student learning outcomes, gross state product, teacher pay, and other career characteristics, and state income tax revenue. Estimates indicate the potential for a statewide transition to Opportunity Culture models to provide a brighter future for students, teachers, and the state’s economy.
Opportunity at the Top: How America’s Best Teachers Could Close the Gaps, Raise the Bar, and Keep Our Nation Great
Even if current reform efforts to recruit more great teachers and dismiss low performers were wildly successful, nearly two-thirds of children still would not have great teachers. But if we add high-performer retention and reach extension, 87 percent of classes could be taught by gap-closing, bar-raising teachers—in a mere half decade. This outcome is within our reach—but only if we vastly expand the opportunities for top teachers. Read more…
Teachers: If you are an excellent teacher or one who aspires to excellence, this two-page report explains how schools can use redesigned jobs and career paths to help you stay enthusiastic about teaching, reach more students, and lead your peers, for more pay. With input from teachers and other experts, Public Impact has published numerous school models that offer different possibilities for time use and role flexibility, making the best use of great teachers’ valuable time and returning the respect you deserve by paying more for reaching more students with excellence.
This webpage contains links to financial analyses of three of the 20+ Opportunity Culture school models. Savings and cost calculations of the models—Elementary Subject Specialization, Multi-Classroom Leadership, and Time-Technology Swap Rotation—illustrate that schools could increase excellent teachers’ pay up to approximately 130%, without increasing class sizes and within existing budgets. In some variations, schools may pay all teachers more, sustainably. Combining these and other sustainable models to extend the reach of excellent teachers and promote excellence by all instructional staff may produce even greater savings to fund teacher pay increases and other priorities, while producing excellent student outcomes. A financial planning summary provides an overview of the expected savings and costs of implementing all school model categories.
Despite proliferating chatter about the need to reform teacher compensation, the bulk of teacher pay remains fundamentally unchanged. This report by Emily Ayscue Hassel and Bryan C. Hassel, with research assistance from Julie Kowal and published by the NGA Center for Best Practices, sets forth a guiding principle for moving from talk to action—“pay for contribution.” Pay for contribution means investing more in teachers and teaching roles that contribute measurably more to student learning. Pay for contribution is particularly attractive to higher contributors. For this reason, it can help shape not only the performance of current teachers, but also the quality of the future teaching workforce by shifting who enters and stays in the profession. The report explains several approaches to pay for contribution and explores the research on how to design these strategies to get the best results. In addition, it explores related policy initiatives, such as data systems with teacher-level student learning results, that would help make pay for contribution happen.
Performance pay, hard-to-staff incentives, and other special payments combined make up only 1% of the teacher pay “pie” nationally. With school budgets tight, the prospects of new, long-term infusions of funds for alternative forms of teacher compensation are bleak. For districts and states eager to reform teacher pay, then, the only viable, sustainable strategy is to “re-slice the teacher compensation pie”—reducing the amount of funding that goes to reward master’s degrees, experience beyond the first five or so years, and other qualifications that research suggests are unrelated to student learning. This presentation shows how re-slicing—whether modest or bold—could dramatically increase the resources available to pay teachers for their contributions to student learning.
Debate rages in education over whether to provide teachers with financial incentives in order to improve recruitment and retention in “hard-to-staff” schools and subject areas. In other public sectors—the civil service, military, and medicine—organizations take for granted that compensation is a powerful tool; they have moved from this debate about “whether” to a discussion of “how.” Experience from these domains suggests that a “portfolio” of incentives (including performance bonuses, loan repayment or scholarship programs, and other forms) may be most effective. As a component of this portfolio, performance-based incentives can boost both the recruitment and retention power of hard-to-staff pay—particularly for the high-potential candidates that we need most in hard-to-staff schools. But no matter the form, other sectors are offering more substantial premiums than we have seen in education: up to 30 percent of a staff member’s total pay in some high-demand positions. At the same time, many organizations in these other sectors are pursuing non-financial solutions, too, such as targeting a “ready pool” of candidates (who don’t mind or are already attracted to a position) to help reduce the additional incentives required—or reorganizing operations (often using technology) to reduce the need for the position. The report, including implications for public education, was presented in November 2008 at the Center for American Progress. A video of the panel discussion is available here.
Improving the quality of teaching is a consensus, high-priority capacity-building challenge. This publication, prepared for the Progressive Policy Institute, addresses one piece of the teaching quality puzzle: pay. It calls for wide-scale experimentation with new approaches to pay teachers, including performance-based pay, differential pay for hard-to-fill jobs, and pay for knowledge and skills.
Teacher Compensation in Charter and Private Schools: Snapshots and Lessons for District Public Schools
Teacher Compensation in Charter and Private Schools: Snapshots and Lessons for District Public Schools
In this report for the Center for American Progress, Julie Kowal, Emily Ayscue Hassel and Bryan C. Hassel examine teacher compensation policies in charter and private schools for lessons to help traditional public schools more effectively draw and keep high-quality teachers. The authors looked to national surveys of charter and private schools and interviews with leading charter and private school networks for their answers to major questions that animate the current debates over teacher pay in public schools. Their findings, presented at CAP in February 2007, offer a picture of what school and district leaders can do with pay when they are free to use compensation as a tool to meet their goals.