Pay Scales

Retaining Effective Teachers Policy

Pay Scales

The state should give local districts authority over pay scales.

Best practices

Florida and Indiana allow local districts to develop their own salary schedules, while preventing districts from focusing on elements not associated with teacher effectiveness. In Florida, local salary schedules must ensure that the most effective teachers receive salary increases greater than the highest annual salary adjustment available. Indiana requires local salary scales to be based on a combination of factors and limits the years of teacher experience and content-area degrees to account for no more than one-third of this calculation.

Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Pay Scales National Results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:
Best practice 2


Meets goal 1


Nearly meets goal 1


Meets goal in part 29


Meets a small part of goal 3


Does not meet goal 15


What role do states play in deciding teacher pay rates?

Figure details

State allows districts to set their own salary schedules.: AK, AZ, CO, CT, DC, FL, ID, IN, KS, MD, MI, MN, MT, ND, NE, NH, NV, NY, OR, PA, RI, SD, UT, VA, VT, WI, WY

State sets the minimum salary a teacher must earn but leaves the rest to districts.: CA, IA, IL, MA, ME, MO, NJ, NM

State sets minimum salary schedule: AL, AR, DE, GA, HI, KY, LA, MS, NC, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, WA, WV

CO: Colorado gives districts the option of a salary schedule, a performance pay policy or a combination of both.
RI: Rhode Island requires that local district salary schedules are based on years of service, experience and training.

Research rationale

For evidence that degree status does not increase teacher effectiveness and should therefore not be automatically rewarded in teacher salary schedules, see the following:

C. Clotfelter, H. Ladd and J. Vigdor, "How and Why do Teacher Credentials Matter for Student Achievement?" National Bureau of Economic Research. Working Paper No. 12828 (2007); S. Rivkin, E. Hanushek, and J. Kain, "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement." Econometrica (2005); R. Ehrenberg and D. Brewer, "Do School and Teacher Characteristics Matter? Evidence from High School and Beyond," Economics of Education Review, 1994; 14: 1-23. (Ehrenberg and Brewer found that an increase in the percentage of teachers with master's degrees was associated with lower gains among white students but higher gains among black students.); R. Murnane, The Impact of School Resources on the Learning of Inner City Children, (Cambridge, MA: Harper Collins, 1975); H. Kiesling, "Assignment Practices and the Relationship of Instructional Time to the Reading Performance of Elementary School Children," Economics of Education Review, 1984; 3(4): 341-50.B. Rowan, et al., "What Large-scale, Survey Research Tells Us About the Teacher Effects on Student Achievement: Insights from the Prospects Study of Elementary Schools," Teachers College Record (2002); 104(8): 1525-67.R. Ferguson, "Paying for Public Education: New Evidence on How and Why Money Matters," Harvard Journal on Legislation, 1991; 28: 465-98.D. Goldhaber and D. Brewer, "Evaluating the Effect of Teacher Degree Level on Educational Performance," Developments in School Finance, ed. W. Fowler, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1997, 199-210.

For data on the high cost of salary differentials based on advanced degrees, see Marguerite Roza and Raegan Miller, July 2009, "Separation by Degrees," Center for American Progress.

For evidence that experience does not directly correlate with teacher effectiveness, and therefore should not be the sole determinate of the highest steps on a pay scale, see the following:

J. King Rice "The Impact of Teacher Experience: Examining the Evidence and Policy Implications." CALDER: Urban Institute (2010); S. Rivkin, E. Hanushek, and J. Kain, "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement." Econometrica (2005); C. Clotfelter, H. Ladd, and J. Vigdor, "How and Why Do Teacher Credentials Matter for Student Achievement?" National Bureau of Economic Research (2007); Kukla-Acevedo, "Do Teacher Characteristics Matter? New Results on the Effects of Teacher Preparation on Student Achievement." Economics of Education Review (2009); E. Hanushek and S. Rivkin, "How to Improve the Supply of High Quality Teachers." Brookings Institute (2004). 

For information about alternative compensation for teachers, see the following:

Teaching Commission and USC California Policy Institute, "Understanding Alternative Teacher Compensation," USC California Policy Institute, 2005.Jennifer Azordegan, et al., "Diversifying Teacher Compensation: The Teaching Commission and Education Commission of the States," ECS (2005); Minnesota Department of Education, "Quality Compensation for Teacher (Q Comp) Contains Five Basic Components."