Alternate Teacher Compensation Models – Why in the world would I vote for it.

Tuesday night, our board had one of the more controversial proposals before us in the way that we compensate teachers. The discussion has been driven over the past several years by work that has been funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation brought in a part of Dr. Cash’s teacher reform effort. The effectiveness effort really revolved around a couple of key areas:

Teacher Recruitment and Retention

Professional Development


Almost all of the expenses of this work has been paid for by a grant from the foundation. So if you hear that we are paying consultants to finish work on the models, all of that money comes from the Gates Foundation and can only be used for that work. So I want to dispel any myths that we are cutting teachers and paying for consultants out of county money because we are not.

As far as the wisdom of alternate compensation models, there is data that supports it and data that does not. Much like the traditional models. The center piece of the compensation reform revolved around pay based upon performance of children vs pay for length of service and higher education degree attained. Our model as it stands today, pays more to teacher for years of service and advanced degree attained regardless of the educational outcomes. So you could have a new teacher with a bachelor’s degree scoring as a level 5 teacher and an experienced, master degree teacher scoring a level 2, and the less effective teacher making much more money.

In private industry, our companies invest in professional development for employees expecting for it to yield a return to the company in a measurable metric. You do not get automatic pay bumps for master’s degrees typically. But if your performance increases, you get a pay bump. If the private industry were to take a position that every employee who went out and got a degree would get an automatic bump that sustains year-over-year, a company would go bankrupt.

And that is what is happening in the public school systems. Step-increases, coupled with automatic pay increases for advanced degrees, and a pretty nice public pension consumes 70-75% of our budgets. So the model is not sustainable.

My support going forward was for multiple compensation models that invest in professional development and advanced degrees(as in the district would pay for it) but compensated more based on outcomes. My understanding is that these models are not final and my expectation is that these will continue to evolve over the next year. I also understand that not all details are worked out for all subject matter expertise.

And supporting alternate compensation should not be misconstrued that we are trying to hurt teachers. In reality, those teachers who bring it everyday and perform and get results will see benefits in this model. Those who are not won’t. And this is how we do it in the private sector. And this type of model and it is effective.

And lastly, there would be no reason to go through this effort if we did not have a problem associated with it. And we do have a problem where we are heavily compensating teachers who should not be teaching at the expense of those who are getting it done. It exists. I am a parent and I see it.

And I don’t drink Bill Gates or “reform” cool-aid. I just want us to re-evaluate and find a more sustainable compensation model that makes sense.


One Response to Alternate Teacher Compensation Models – Why in the world would I vote for it.

  1. Marla Keeley says:

    I understand the thought process behind paying based on performance, but I am against “teaching to the test” which is what a lot of people end up doing…they are teaching just so kids can do well on a test so they get paid more or can keep their job….most people teach collaboratively too..meaning they collaborate and teach the same material using mostly the same methods (at my school anyway). What happens if you have one teacher who has a more “gifted” class and one who doesn’t? You can’t control the kids you get. I understand that corporate America pays on performance, but when you are dealing with students and circumstances and backgrounds of those students, I don’t completely agree. And, like you said, how are they going to compensate someone like me who is a Health/Interior Design/Culinary teacher?? It is a tough call…neither the current model nor a performance model is completely foolproof in my opinion. 🙂 Thanks for all of the work you are doing for the people. 🙂

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