Compensation and Career Path

Districts cannot afford to funnel so many resources into a system that does not reward the best teachers or provide incentives for teachers to improve and contribute.

What is the Challenge?

Traditional teacher-salary structures treat all teachers equally, rewarding teachers for years of experience and course credits whether or not they perform well. Yet research shows that neither experience (after the first three to five years) nor master’s degrees (except degrees in math) are correlated with teaching effectiveness.

Most districts offer little or no additional money to teachers based on the subject they teach (ignoring the competing career opportunities they may have), the need level of their students and schools, their effectiveness, or their willingness and ability to take on additional responsibilities (e.g., lead teacher, teacher mentor, curriculum leader).

“The goal of such a system is to integrate teacher compensation with the overall reform plan, and it involves much more than simply raising salaries across the board or tying salaries to student performance.”

Step-By-Step Analysis

The analyses in our worksheets will show you how to evaluate the components of your district’s compensation system, specifically:

  • The percent of teacher compensation spent on base salary, experience, educational attainment, benefits, and additional responsibilities and performance pay
  • The framework for comparing your district’s salaries to surrounding districts
  • Total potential compensation increases for teachers over the course of their careers based on education, experience versus contribution, and leadership

Take Action

  • Develop a shared long-term vision for your compensation system
  • Align compensation goals across all levels
  • Review your compensation levels relative to other districts
  • Review benefits relative to other local employers
  • Reduce or remove lane increases
  • Enable teachers to reach the top salary step earlier in their careers
  • Change the way you offer stipends
  • Create differential salary schedules by subject
  • Differentiate compensation for teaching at hard-to-staff schools
  • Differentiate compensation based on teacher effectiveness
  • Develop career lattices/paths that allow teachers to take on more leadership responsibility and still teach
  • Develop career lattices/paths that allow teachers to reduce their workloads temporarily or permanently