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New Report Provides Lessons for Districts to Redesign Teacher Compensation Systems to Advance Student Performance

ERS co-releases a new paper with the Center for American Progress

Report highlights 10 first-mover districts that have effectively redesigned teacher compensation systems: Baltimore City, MD; Denver, Douglas County, and Harrison School District 2, CO; Hillsborough County, FL; Lawrence, MA; New Haven, CT; Pittsburgh, PA; Putnam County, TN; and Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Effective teachers are the biggest in-school factor related to student success. Across the country, a diverse set of districts are pioneering innovative approaches to teacher compensation that reward their best teachers and raise teacher compensation overall. A new report from the Center for American Progress and Educational Resource Strategies, or ERS, looks at 10 first-mover districts in order to provide lessons for how school districts can redesign their compensation systems to attract, retain, and leverage a high-performing teacher force.

“Revising teacher career paths and compensation is one critical piece of getting and keeping great teachers and making the most of education dollars,” said Karen Hawley Miles, president and executive director of ERS and coauthor of the report.

“Our report highlights lessons from the school districts that are thinking outside the box to reform their teacher compensation systems—to attract and retain great teachers,” said Kaitlin Pennington, policy analyst at CAP and coauthor of the report.

The report by Karen Hawley Miles, Kaitlin Pennington, and David Bloom, highlights 10 school districts that have effectively redesigned their teacher compensation systems: Baltimore City, MD; Denver, Douglas County, and Harrison School District 2, CO; Hillsborough County, FL; Lawrence, MA; New Haven, CT; Pittsburgh, PA; Putnam County, TN; and Washington, D.C. While each of these districts have faced different constraints and made different choices in redesigning their compensation systems, CAP and ERS used these district analyses to identify the following best practices for districts to approach redesigning teacher compensation systems:

  • Differentiate compensation based on roles and responsibilities
  • Set starting salaries to meet market demand
  • Align teacher compensation redesign with fair and proven teacher evaluation systems
  • Shift pay away from years of experience and advance degree attainment
  • Use compensation incentives to attract highly effective teachers to hard-to-staff schools, districts, and subjects
  • Emphasize extra pay for effectiveness and career pathways instead of small bonuses
  • Accelerate the timeline to earning the maximum salary where possible
  • Allow teachers to opt-in to new compensation systems within a set timeframe

“Do More, Add More, Earn More: Teacher Salary Redesign Lessons from 10 First-Mover Districts”


To speak with a Center for American Progress expert, please contact Allison Preiss at 202.478.6331 or apreiss@americanprogress.org.

To speak with an Education Resource Strategies expert, please contact Allison Hausman at 617.600.4619 or ahausman@erstrategies.org.

The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Education Resource Strategies (ERS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming how urban school systems organize resources—people, time, technology, and money—so that every school succeeds for every student. For nearly 10 years, ERS has worked hand-in-hand with more than 20 urban school systems nationwide on strategic resource allocation. We work on topics such as teacher compensation and career path, funding equity, school design, central office support, and budget development. We also share research and practical tools based on our extensive dataset, and we collaborate with others to create the conditions for change in education.

New Report Provides Lessons for Districts to Redesign Teacher Compensation Systems to Advance Student Performance
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