Teacher compensation is in dire need of a massive overhaul. Teachers should not make less than other college-educated professionals. Pay shouldn’t be a great equalizer, but a flexible tool used to solve fundamental problems schools face. The good news? Districts like Washington, D.C., and Dallas are proving that it is doable.

Strategic Teacher Compensation Databurst

May 2018

NCTQ's Strategic Teacher Compensation Databurst is a study of states' strategic teacher compensation policies which includes a snapshot of all 50 states' and the District of Columbia's teacher compensation policies as they relate to providing additional compensation for effective teacher performance, teaching in high-need schools and subjects, and relevant, prior non-teaching work experience.

A Word from Kate Walsh

A Word from Kate Walsh

Until districts shift their teacher pay to more accurately reflect what they value most, they’ll continue to struggle to attract and retain the talent so needed. We can start by ensuring that all teachers make a competitive salary. But we can’t stop there.

Teaching shouldn't require a vow of poverty.

As former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “Money is not the reason that people enter teaching. But it is a reason why some talented people avoid teaching–or quit the profession when starting a family or buying a home."

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The climb to the top of the pay scale should be steep. In too many places, it's not. 

Teacher salaries are about so much more than what teachers make at the beginning and end of their careers. How quickly teachers can ascend the salary ladder, particularly the most effective teachers, is key to retention.

Learn more about the importance of salary progression in Smart Money: What teachers make, how long it takes, and what it buys them.

Smart Money

Pay structures should reflect a teacher's consistent contribution to student learning.

Almost every school district in the country bases pay on the number of years teachers have worked and the number of degrees they have earned. In doing so, schools squander an employer's most important tool for building a high quality workforce.

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Advanced degrees don't correspond with teacher effectiveness.

While study after study finds no relationship between teachers' advanced degrees and their effectiveness, districts continue to shell out large sums for degrees—and teachers are stuck spending time earning credits they would not otherwise seek to earn.

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Districts should align pay to what they value most: exemplary teaching.

While the number of districts finding ways to increase the earnings of their best teachers is growing, they are still among the minority in the large districts tracked by NCTQ. 

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Strategic Pay

Not all teaching jobs are the same... should all teachers be paid according to the same schedule?

By adjusting pay for teachers who have the qualifications to fill hard-to-staff vacancies or who are willing to teach in more challenging schools, we could solve problems that have long plagued the profession.

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States can pass laws that change how teachers get paid, but that's the easy part. 

Between 2011 and 2015, the number of states factoring teacher effectiveness into teacher salaries doubled. As NCTQ learned in a study of how Florida districts implemented that state's A+ performance pay law, implementation is where the rubber meets the road.

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